Sport Golf

Saturday 24 August 2019

Spieth wary as wind change threatens high drama

Rory McIlroy was angered by two late bogeys. Photo: Getty Images
Rory McIlroy was angered by two late bogeys. Photo: Getty Images

Dermot Gilleece

Jordan Spieth is set to brave high winds at Carnoustie today with the hope of becoming the first man to retain the Open Championship since Pádraig Harrington, 10 years ago.

He is joined at the top of the leaderboard by fellow Americans Xander Shauffele and Kevin Kisner on nine-under par, after a thrilling third round yesterday.

Scoring was of such a high quality that a round of 70 left Rory McIlroy four strokes back in a share of sixth place, which had him contemplating the wind as a possible friend.

From off the North Sea yesterday, it is expected to change to a westerly direction at speeds of up to 18mph and with gusts of between 20 and 25mph. And Spieth could have been reading McIlroy's thoughts when he said: "A bunched leaderboard at Carnoustie means that someone could post a score and potentially win the tournament."

He added: "The change of wind is going to make for a meaty start, not to mention the finishing holes. Obviously I've got the opportunity to make it a very memorable day, but I don't feel I have to prove anything, least of all to myself."

As it happens, the main focus is likely to be on Tiger Woods, who claimed a share of the lead at one stage yesterday, for the first time in a Major since the halfway stage of the 2012 US Open at the Olympic Club.

And a third-round 66 was his best in the Open since he won it for a third time at Hoylake in 2006.

As to his prospects of bridging a 12-year gap, he said: "It's certainly possible. I've been there, close enough to win this year. I didn't know if that would ever happen again. It's going to be fun."

McIlroy is also looking at bridging gaps, though his post-round thoughts seemed to be dominated by bogeys at the 16th and 18th. "I'm a bit angry with that finish," he said. "I felt like today the course was perfectly set up to take advantage of it and attack it. I tried to do that for the most part. Maybe my wedge play wasn't quite as good as it should have been, but I give myself plenty of chances. I just need to regroup and get ready for tomorrow.

"But the important thing is that I've given myself a chance. If I can get to double-digits under-par, I think that would be a good score to post. I just need to get off to a fast start tomorrow."

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