Jordan Spieth was a stroke behind the leaders with a shot at his third consecutive major tournament victory.
Former British Open champion David Duval was enjoying a sparkling third round on Sunday as the weather-affected championship resumed under cloudy conditions at St Andrews.
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland >> For a place dripping with centuries of history, St. Andrews got more than it could have wanted Sunday.
Dunne, the 22-year-old amateur from Ireland, is the most improbable name atop the leaderboard.
The clamor grew louder after a birdie on the very first hole, one fan remarking to his pal: “Look out lads, he’s on the charge”.
Yet the gallery that gathered to see Spieth off the Old Course’s first tee at 1.30pm local time left little doubt as to who is golf’s man of the moment.
They were at 12-under 204. Competing against the best golfers in the world and the Dustin Johnsons and Jordan Spieths and Rorys is not a fair fight when I haven’t played a golf tournament in three or four months and they’ve been playing constantly.
But it’s not an amateur event.
“It’s just lucky that it happens to be the biggest event in the world”, Dunne said Sunday.
“Hopefully, I can do it again tomorrow”, he said. In the modern history of the sport, no player has ever won the Grand Slam.
He goes to the final day just one shot behind co-leaders Jason Day, Louis Oosthuizen and Paul Dunne.
And so it was Spieth, a 21-year-old Texan with an uncanny sense of occasion, who brought the gray, old town to life in a mixture of sunshine and rain. He finished with a 66.
“I played the worst round [of the contenders]”, said Johnson, who laughed when his birdie putt went in. “I’m going to have to put together a special round tomorrow to have a chance”, he said. I want to win. “It’s going to be hard”.
For the first time in 27 years, the players are coming back to finish the Open Championship on a Monday. Marc Leishman flirted with a record-tying 63 until he made par on the closing hole.
Not after an impeccable back nine that pulled him within a shot of the lead. It always has seemed to me that winning all four major championships in the same year is impossible.
Spieth made par to stay with the leading pack while Johnson went long from a bunker and couldn’t accept the regulation birdie on offer.
And then the kid birdied the 10th hole, the 11th hole and the 12th hole to move into the lead. Now at St Andrews, despite being five shots clear of his compatriot at the start of play, he was behind again after a disappointing 75 to fall back to seven-under.
The Old Course is ripe for low scoring Sunday at the British Open. Even during the long delay on Saturday, he said he hasn’t thought much about the slam.
By the time Spieth teed off on the 14th the galleries had grown bigger and the press contingent had quadrupled. “I’ll embrace the opportunity that presents itself”.
“I would say physically, mechanically I’m probably playing just like I was back in 2001 but the thing I lack is starts, and from that confidence, the utter confidence that the top players have”. And this, I think, is the greatest gift in golf. Why should it add more pressure in a negative way?
It’s possible that Johnson plays his best when he feels comfortable and safe, rather than challenged, and if that’s the case maybe he should keep his brother, Austin, on the bag. He won the Masters in a runaway.
A month ago, the Australian managed to haul his tired body into the final pairing at Chambers Bay despite collapsing because of vertigo in the second round and suffering bouts of dizziness in the third. Justin Rose, Adam Scott, Zach Johnson and Retief Goosen make up that part of the group and the rest are Sergio Garcia, Danny Willett and Robert Streb.