Rain and the threat of thunderstorms couldn’t dampen some fantastic golf on day three at Royal Liverpool.
Despite a frustrating day for Australian golf fans, some hugely entertaining golf was played out at Royal Liverpool that ended with 25-year-old Rory McIlroy holding a commanding XXX-shot lead and staring down his third major championship trophy.
The scores at the end of the third round belied the drama that unfolded during the middle of the day with Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia all pushing McIlroy for the lead at different times.
Early rain and a gentle afternoon breeze softened Hoylake, leaving it vulnerable to low scores and Rickie Fowler was the first of the leaders to take advantage. Fowler fired seven birdies in his first 12 holes that put some early pressure on McIlroy who started slowly.
A bogey at the first hole had spectators wondering if the former world number one was going to blow another big lead at a major. He managed to see off early challenges from Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia but when he made bogey at the 12th, Fowler had drawn along side him on top of the leaderboard.
But the next four holes may go a long way to deciding the outcome of The Open. McIlroy not only took back the outright lead but also control of the tournament.
McIlroy birdied the 14th and dropped a 25-foot putt for eagle at the 16th that sent a huge roar around Hoylake. Combined with Fowler’s three bogeys in four holes, McIlroy was four shots clear and once again well ahead of the rest of the field.
A majestic approach to the par-5 18th hole set up an eagle that launched McIlroy even further in front and he’ll take a six shot lead into tomorrow’s final round.
Ahead of a forecast afternoon thunderstorm, players teed off the 1st and the 10th holes for the first time Open Championship history.
In a tournament where the elements and the luck of the draw often determine who is in contention on Sunday afternoon it was a strange decision. And one that would most likely have left some golfers a little miffed, especially those needing to make up ground on the leaders.
Such as Adam Scott.
It was a frustrating day for the six Australians who made the cut. On the wrong side of the draw for the opening few days, Adam Scott and Marc Leishman began the day at 3-under par but couldn’t make enough early birdies to get within sight of the leaders.
Both dropped over par around the turn but Scott and Leishman bottled birdies late in the round to be the only two Australians to post sub-par rounds and get themselves in with a silly chance of winning at six and five under respectively.