Jordan Spieth, Kevin Kisner and Xander Schauffele lead the Open Championship heading into the final round. Saturday’s third round was filled with runs from some of golf’s biggest stars and sets up a delightful Sunday morning telecast with superstars Spieth, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy all in the mix. Full scores
The golf world was sent into a frenzy early on Saturday with a famed Tiger charge. Woods thrust himself into contention with a Saturday 66 to get within four shots of the leaders. Woods’ stellar round featured six birdies and a lone bogey on the 16th. It’s the first time that Woods has been in contention at a major championship on a Sunday since the 2013 Open, where he finished t6th. To win, Tiger will need another strong round in what’s shaping up to be the toughest weather forecast of the week. As of now, Tiger is very much alive, but Sunday could be dicey for those of us pulling for him. Tomorrow morning will be must-see TV for Tiger and other reasons...
New haircut, new Jordan
Following the opening acts of Justin Rose and Tiger, Jordan Spieth (and his new haircut) shot up the leaderboard Saturday afternoon. He opened with an eagle on the 1st and added four birdies for a 3rd-round 65. The round vaulted him to the top and ensured him the final group on Sunday for the second Open Championship in a row. A win this week would be the first time a player under the age of 25 won back-to-back Opens since Young Tom Morris in 1872. There were 8 players who completed the event that year, and the course was 12 holes long (h/t Justin Ray)
Kevin Chappell made one of the lesser-expected moves on Saturday, shooting a strong 67 to get within 2 of the lead. Chappell has only won once on the PGA Tour but is one of the more consistent players you’ll find. He battled through a dip in the middle of his round Saturday with a bogey-free 32 on the back nine.
Killing Them Schauffele
Only one X(z)ander could prevail on Saturday, and the victor was Schauffele. X burst onto the scene last year with victories at the Greenbrier and East Lake and has followed it up with a solid 2018 season. A win on Sunday would make him a near lock for the Ryder Cup team this fall and put him near the top of the list of best players under 25.
Frank’s Red Hot
The hottest player on the planet is Frank Molinari, and he has continued that strong play this week. In his last 5 starts, he has two wins and two runners-up. He will enter the final round 3 shots back.
Playing in the final pairing with Zach Johnson, Kevin Kisner put together a bogey-free round of 68 to head into Sunday with a share of the lead. Kisner’s only other time holding a 54 lead came at last year’s PGA Championship, where he shot a final-round 74 to fall into a share of 7th. Kisner’s putter has been tremendous this week, and last year’s PGA Championship experience should help him in his quest for his first major.
Pace of Play
Thanks to rules officials that enforce pace of play and slower greens, the majority of groups in the third round of the Open Championship played in under 3 hours and 50 minutes. It’s a refreshing change from the regular PGA Tour pace for twosomes, which regularly drifts well into four hours. When it’s a threesome, that pace goes to 5+ hours. The added byproduct of slower greens is the ability to use more interesting pin positions.
All things Rosey
Justin Rose birdied the 18th on Friday to make the cut. That momentum rolled into Saturday when he tied the Carnoustie Open Championship course record, shooting a 7-under 64 to thrust himself on the edge of contention at 4-under. Rose will need another herculean effort on Sunday to have a chance at major championship number two.
Rory McIlroy (kind of)
Rory is in the mix after a third-round 70 that puts him at 5-under. Saturday was a round of what could have been after McIlroy hit perfect drive after perfect drive. McIlroy’s most costly mistake came on the 12th hole where he missed a short putt for par.
On a gettable day, Rickie Fowler tumbled down the leaderboard thanks to a snowman on the par-5 6th. The big number is developing into a major championship theme for Fowler. At last year’s PGA Championship, Fowler finished three shots back of Justin Thomas, despite a triple bogey in the first round. At this year’s Masters, Rick made a reckless attempt on the 13th, finding the water and eventually falling to Patrick Reed by one shot. The triple and third-round 73 put Fowler 8 shots behind the leaders and way outside of striking distance. Winning majors requires near perfect play, especially avoiding the big numbers. When Fowler avoids disasters, he will win majors.
Hot and cold
Tommy Fleetwood’s hot putter from Friday cooled down on Saturday and left the budding star stuck in the mud. Much like Fleetwood’s 78 in the third round of last month’s U.S. Open, today’s 72 leaves him needing an unbelievable Sunday to win.
The Brook Ran Dry
Starting the day just 5 back of the lead, Brooks Koepka shot a 3rd-round 75. He started slow on Thursday but has been red hot the last 27 holes. He was attempting to win his 3rd major in the last 6 tries but will have to wait until next time.
Speaking of dry
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Looking ahead to Sunday
The weather forecast calls for 40% chance of rain and winds of 15-20 mph. It will be by far the most difficult weather of the week. The forecast should favor the leaders as par will be a good score at the fast Carnoustie setup.
Here is a look at the pairings for Sunday’s final groups (all times EST)
8:55 a.m. - Zach Johnson, Tommy Fleetwood
9:05 a.m. - Rory McIlroy, Matt Kuchar
9:15 a.m. - Alex Noren, Webb Simpson
9:25 a.m. - Tiger Woods, Francesco Molinari
9:35 a.m. - Kevin Chappell, Kevin Kisner
9:45 a.m. - Jordan Spieth, Xander Schauffele
Around the rest of the golf world
The PGA Tour’s Barbasol Championship is midway through their third round - live scoring.
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