Thursday 22 March 2018

Westwood to take two-shot lead into final round

England's Lee Westwood today
England's Lee Westwood today

Phil Casey

Lee Westwood will take a two-shot lead into the final round of the 142nd Open Championship after a rollercoaster third day at Muirfield.

That means Tiger Woods will have to make history to win his 15th major title and deny the Englishman a first at the 62nd attempt after failing to keep pace with his playing partner on a dramatic afternoon.

Westwood carded an eagle and three birdies in a round of 70 that left him atop the leaderboard on three under par, with Woods (72) and fellow American Hunter Mahan (68) the only other players in red figures on one under.

Masters champion Adam Scott, who 12 months ago squandered a four-shot lead with four holes to play at Lytham, was another shot behind on level par, with Sweden's Henrik Stenson, Zach Johnson, Angel Cabrera and Ryan Moore another stroke back.

"I know what to expect tomorrow," Westwood said. "I know what to do. I know what it takes. It's just a case of believing you are good enough to win.

"When you analyse it, you don't want to say it, but tomorrow is just another 18 holes. I'm playing well and putting well and there's no reason why I can't carry on.

"I have had lots of chances. I could have won four with the right things going my way. They are the things you feed off. You try to learn from the things you did wrong and put them into practice.

"I'll think about winning the Open Championship tonight at some stage, I'm sure. I don't see anything wrong with that - picture yourself holding the Claret Jug and seeing your name at the top of the leaderboard. But when it comes time to tee-off tomorrow I should be in the same frame of mind as I was today."

Westwood also held the 54-hole lead at the Masters in 2010 and shot a closing 71, only to be overhauled by Phil Mickelson's final round of 67.

"I thought I played nicely that day at Augusta, but Phil played great," he added. "Sometimes you play well and someone plays better."

Ireland's Padraig Harrington, Darren Clarke, Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry fell right out of contention at the Open Championship today as they struggled with the blustery conditions at Muirfield.

Both Harrington and Lowry began the day on six over and in need of a rounds in the 60s but they never transpired with the conditions not condusive to low scoring.

Lowry birdied the second but a bogey on three cancelled it out and he suffered a double bogey on the sixth, the most difficult hole on the course today.

The Offaly native had two further bogeys on the back nine at at 12 and 17 and signed for a 75 to lie on 10 over for the tournament.

Playing with former Ryder Cup team mate Sergio Garcia, Padraig Harrington began solidly but a wayward tee-shot on the par 3 fourth saw him suffer a double bogey.

There were four more bogeys at six, 10, 16 and 18 as he scored a 77 to lie on 12 over.

McDowell is on six over after a 73 today which included three birdies and five bogeys.

Darren Clarke produced three great birdie opportunities on his opening three holes but failed to capitalise on any of them and a bogey on the fifth saw him slide slightly to two over solid par play halted on 13, 14 and 15 when Clarke carded two bogeys and a double bogey to slide to six over and that's the mark he ended on.

Press Association

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