Jordan Spieth moves closer to British Open title defence after 65

Defending champion tied at the top at Carnoustie with fellow Americans Kisner and Schauffele

A star-spangled design was the dominant theme of the leaderboard as an extraordinary third round of this 147th British Open barely gave us time to draw breath.

Tiger Woods prowled the links like his old self to get roars reverberating in Angus, dubbed the birthplace of Scotland. And if his majesty invigorated the huge crowds, it was younger men that he had inspired – Jordan Spieth, Kevin Kisner and Xander Schauffele – who claimed a share of the 54-hole lead.

Spieth, the defending champion, shot a 65 and, along with Kisner (68) and Schauffele (67), were locked together on nine-under-par 209 at the head of affairs. But the packed nature of the field was such that nine players – among them Woods – lay within four shots of the leaders, making for the prospect of an exhilarating final round.

Rory McIlroy, too, was among those in close pursuit. However, the 29-year-old Northern Irishman was left to lament two late bogeys – on the Par-3 16th and the closing 18th, where his drive found a fairway bunker – as he ultimately signed for a 70 for 213, the same mark as Woods.

McIlroy said he was distracted by a photographer when he bogeyed the 16th.

“The one [bogey] on 16, I probably just didn’t give myself enough time to regroup after a photographer was in a world of his own. He was taking a photo of the crowd instead of paying attention to the golf.

“Then I felt like I made a good putt on 18 for bogey in the end. I putted well. I holed out when I needed to. If I can just make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow it will be interesting.”

A beautifully sunny day, with hardly any breeze to talk about, gave players a chance to go low, which is exactly what Justin Rose did. The Englishman had only survived the cut with a birdie on the 18th in his second round on Friday but he made hay in the sunshine with a blistering 64 to leapfrog up the leaderboard. What it did, though, was to let those following him know that the course was there for the taking; and Woods with a 66, and especially Spieth, with a 65, took note and turned their intent into action.

“It’s been a few years since I felt like this,” admitted Woods, who had his children among the large galleries who followed him. His play was like that of old, as his quest for a 15th career Major title took on a realistic ambition rather than mere hope. “I’m right there, I have got a chance at this, which is great,” he added.

McIlroy started off with huge drives on his opening holes, just as he had promised. The big artillery did its job, but sometimes it is the hand combat that is more necessary to conquer a links and his wedge play just wasn’t as sharp as it needed to be.

“I just need to get off to a fast start [in the final round]. I’m obviously disappointed after the way I finished, but I’m still in the tournament. I’m only a few shots behind. I just need to regroup and get ready,” said McIlroy, who claimed that the anticipated wind – gusting up to 25 miles an hour for the final round – would make things “interesting”.

Spieth has improved round on round, after opening with a 72 followed by a 67 and a third round 65. Prior to his round, he could be seen joking with Woods on the putting green – still in his running shoes – but, once he put on the spikes, it was a far more serious scenario.

His intent was obvious from the very first hole. On the walk to the tee, he was unsure what club to play. Driver? Or Iron? His caddie Michael Greller favoured the safe play but Spieth, observing the wind, decided on the big stick. He found the green, and his eagle putt from 12 feet rolled into the hole to give immediate impetus to his round.

By the end, he added four birdies to the eagle in a bogey-free round that gave him a share of the lead with his housemate Kisner and Schauffele, last year’s Tour Champion on the PGA.

A successful defence of the Claret Jug would move Spieth into rarefied air in the context of the championship, alongside Young Tom Morris – from a different era – as the only players under 25 years of age to win it twice.

“That’s a little before even what I’ve heard comparisons to going back,” said Spieth. “ I mean, that’s another 75 years behind the whole Nicklaus and Palmer era. I think that’s a stat that I would have never known had you not said it. But does it change anything? No, probably not. I’d argue there was less players playing back then. It might have been a little easier to do, and I don’t think he’s going to get mad at me.”

Paul Dunne’s putter stayed as cold as an ice cube. A third round 73 for 217, three over, saw him slip some 17 places down to tied-69th. “I missed seven putts inside 12 feet for birdie,” said Dunne, who compounded matters with a double-bogey six on the closing hole after his approach from the rough “squirted out” and ran into the Barry Burn.

On the break-up of the player-caddie partnership of Shane Lowry and Dermot Byrne, Dunne remarked: “I know Shane was with Dermot for nine years. But look, sometimes freshening things up in any area can help. Obviously, Shane thinks that’s going to help him so maybe they will get back together at some point. I don’t know. I feel like caddies and players are like relationships, you know.”

(par 71, British and Irish unless stated, (a) denotes amateur)

204 Jordan Spieth (USA) 72 67 65, Xander Schauffele (USA) 71 66 67, Kevin Kisner (USA) 66 70  68

206 Kevin Chappell (USA) 70 69 67

207 (-6) Francesco Molinari (Ita) 70 72 65

208 (-5) Tiger Woods (USA) 71 71 66, Webb Simpson (USA) 70 71 67, Alex Noren (Swe) 70 71 67, Matt Kuchar (USA) 70 68 70, Rory McIlroy 69 69 70 , Tommy Fleetwood 72 65 71, Zach Johnson (USA) 69 67 72

209 (-4) Justin Rose 72 73 64, Austin Cook (USA) 72 70 67, Adam Scott (Aus) 71 70 68, Charley Hoffman 71 70 68, Zander Lombard (Rsa) 67 71 71, Tony Finau (USA) 67 71 71, Erik van Rooyen (Rsa) 67 71 71

210 (-3) Yusaku Miyazato (Jpn) 71 74 65, Chris Wood, 70 74 66, Byeong Hun An (Kor) 73 71 66, Haotong Li (Chn) 71 72 67, Kyle Stanley (USA) 72 69 69, Ryan Moore (USA) 68 73 69, Danny Willett 69 71 70, Thorbjorn Olesen (Den) 70 70 70

211 (-2) Satoshi Kodaira (Jpn) 72 71 68, Sean Crocker (USA) 71 71 69, Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa) 72 70 69, Shaun Norris (Rsa) 74 68 69, Lucas Herbert (Aus) 73 69 69, Michael Kim (USA) 73 69 69, Patrick Cantlay (USA) 70 71 70, Pat Perez (USA) 69 68 74

212 (-1) Bernhard Langer (Ger) 73 71 68, Phil Mickelson (USA) 73 69 70, Eddie Pepperell 71 70 71, Rickie Fowler (USA) 70 69 73

213 (Lev) Patrick Reed (USA) 75 70 68, Ross Fisher 75 70 68, Jason Dufner (USA) 75 70 68, Tom Lewis 75 70 68, Marc Leishman (Aus) 72 72 69, Lee Westwood 72 72 69, Julian Suri (USA) 74 69 70, Thomas Pieters (Bel) 70 73 70, Stewart Cink (USA) 72 70 71, Sung Kang (Kor) 69 72 72, Brandon Stone (Rsa) 68 72 73

214 (+1) Adam Hadwin (Can) 73 70  71, Marcus Kinhult (Swe) 74 69 71, Yuta Ikeda (Jpn) 70 73 71, Jason Day (Aus) 71 71 72, Matthew Southgate 69 72 73

215 (+2) Rhys Enoch 74 71 70, Sam Locke (a) 72 73 70, Masahiro Kawamura (Jpn) 77 67 71, Shubhankar Sharma (Ind) 73 71 71, Gary Woodland (USA) 71 72 72

216 (+3) Gavin Green (USA) 72 73 71, Ryan Fox (Nzl) 74 71 71, Henrik Stenson (Swe) 70 75 71, Paul Casey 73 71 72, Brett Rumford (Aus) 74 70 72, Kevin Na (USA) 70 73 73, Cameron Davis (Aus) 71 72 73, Brooks Koepka (USA) 72 69 75

217 (+4) Tyrrell Hatton 74 71 72, Paul Dunne 71 73 73, Cameron Smith (Aus) 73 71 73, Brendan Steele (USA) 68 76 73, Luke List (USA) 70 70 77

218 (+5) Keegan Bradley (USA) 74 71 73, Bryson DeChambeau (USA) 75 70 73, Si-Woo Kim (Kor) 71 72 75

219 (+6) Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha) 74 71 74

220 (+7) Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Esp) 74 70 76 , Beau Hossler (USA)  73 70 77


0800 Beau Hossler (USA)
0810 Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha), Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Esp)
0820 Si Woo Kim (Kor), Bryson DeChambeau (USA)
0830 Keegan Bradley (USA), Luke List (USA)
0840 Brendan Steele (USA), Cameron Smith (Aus)
0850 Paul Dunne, Tyrrell Hatton
0900 Brooks Koepka (USA), Cameron Davis (Aus)
0910 Kevin Na (USA), Brett Rumford (Aus)
0920 Paul Casey, Henrik Stenson (Swe)
0930 Ryan Fox (Nzl), Gavin Green (Mal)
0945 Gary Woodland (USA), Shubhankar Sharma (Ind)
0955 Masahiro Kawamura (Jpn), Sam Locke (a)
1005 Rhys Enoch, Matthew Southgate
1015 Jason Day (Aus), Marcus Kinhult (Swe)
1025 Yuta Ikeda (Jpn), Adam Hadwin (Can)
1035 Brandon Stone (Rsa), Sung Kang (Kor)
1045 Stewart Cink (USA), Thomas Pieters (Bel)
1055 Julian Suri (USA), Lee Westwood
1105 Marc Leishman (Aus), Tom Lewis
1115 Jason Dufner (USA), Ross Fisher
1130 Patrick Reed (USA), Rickie Fowler (USA)
1140 Eddie Pepperell, Phil Mickelson (USA)
1150 Bernhard Langer (Ger), Pat Perez (USA)
1200 Patrick Cantlay (USA), Michael Kim (USA)
1210 Lucas Herbert (Aus), Shaun Norris (Rsa)
1220 Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa), Sean Crocker (USA)
1230 Satoshi Kodaira (Jpn), Thorbjorn Olesen (Den)
1240 Danny Willett, Ryan Moore (USA)
1250 Kyle Stanley (USA), Haotong Li (Chn)
1300 Byeong-Hun An (Kor), Chris Wood
1315 Yusaku Miyazato (Jpn), Erik Van Rooyen (Rsa)
1325 Tony Finau (USA), Zander Lombard (Rsa)
1335 Charley Hoffman (USA), Adam Scott (Aus)
1345 Austin Cook (USA), Justin Rose
1355 Zach Johnson (USA), Tommy Fleetwood
1405 Rory McIlroy, Matt Kuchar (USA)
1415 Alex Noren (Swe), Webb Simpson (USA)
1425 Tiger Woods (USA), Francesco Molinari (Ita)
1435 Kevin Chappell (USA), Kevin Kisner (USA)
1445 Xander Schauffele (USA), Jordan Spieth (USA)