Johnson Defies the Wind to Maintain a One Shot Lead
Dustin Johnson remains on course to win the first Major title of his career at the home of golf.
The American added a 69 to his opening 65 but will have to wait until Monday to complete his bid to win The Open after the third day of the Championship was decimated by winds gusting to over 40 miles per hour.
Play had started on schedule at 7.00 am but lasted only 32 minutes before the players were taken off the course. They did not return until 6.00 pm by which time it had already been decided to postpone the third round until Sunday and then play the fourth and final round on Monday.
The only time The Open had previously been extended to Monday was when rain severely affected the 1988 Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes where Seve Ballesteros went on to claim his third Claret Jug. The last Monday finish at any Major was at the 2009 US Open at Bethpage which was also extended as a result of torrential rain.
Johnson started the third day of the Championship at ten-under-par but promptly dropped a shot on his opening hole of the day, the par-five 14TH, before firing three pars and a birdie on the 18TH to finish on ten-under-par 134. That left him one shot ahead of Englishman Danny Willett, who had finished his 69 the previous evening, and Scotland’s Paul Lawrie, who defied the wind with five successive pars.
Another Scot, Marc Warren, is one of six players heading into Sunday in a share of fourth place on seven-under-par 137. He is joined by Americans Zach Johnson and Robert Streb, Australians Adam Scott and Jason Day, plus South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen, the 2005 champion, who remains very much in the hunt to claim a second successive Claret Jug at the home of golf.
“I’m very pleased with my score,” said Johnson, who is bidding to bounce back after three-putting the last hole to lose last month’s US Open to compatriot, Jordan Spieth. “This morning, when we went out, it was almost impossible, but we managed to hang in there.
“After the re-start, it was still very tough, but we got some good pars and the birdie on the last was a good way to finish.”
Lawrie, the 1999 champion at Carnoustie, was delighted to be challenging but did not want to look further ahead than his first shot in the next round.
“Today, I holed a succession of par putts which is important, obviously,” he said. “Putts like that make a big difference when you’ve got a chance to win any tournament. I could easily be sitting here at five-under, not eight, so that’s a positive thing.
“It’s important to remember it’s just the halfway stage,” he added. “All I’m thinking of is getting off the first tee tomorrow, making a good swing and then moving on to the second shot. I know that’s boring but, it’s important not to get ahead of yourself, because that’s when disasters happen.
“So, it’s one shot at a time. I know I’m playing good. I know I’m swinging good and I’m certainly putting better, but there’s a long way left to go.”
A total of five amateurs made it through to the last two rounds of the Championship and will compete for the Silver Medal over the next two days.
That is the biggest number since the 100TH Open at St Andrews in 1960 when nine amateurs made the cut and three – Guy Wolstenholme, Joe Carr and David Blair – went on to finish in the top-ten.
Fifty-five years later, the leader in the race for the amateur prize is Irish Walker Cup hopeful Paul Dunne, who posted the second of his two 69s yesterday evening and was able to relax as the late finishers had to hang around to see when they could finish their second rounds.
Dunne’s nearest rival is 21 year-old American, Jordan Niebrugge, who is on four-under-par after carding rounds of 67 and 73. Frenchman, Romain Langasque, winner of the recent Amateur Championship at Carnoustie, is one shot further back after adding a 72 to his opening 69, while American, Oliver Schniederjans, is at two-under following rounds of 70 and 72.
The fifth amateur to make the cut was Englishman, Ashley Chesters, the winner of the European Championship in each of the last two years. He opened with a 71 and then consolidated his status among the qualifiers with a level par 72 in the second round.
Late in the day, Chesters was almost joined by international colleague, Paul Kinnear, who was just one shot outside the mark after 34 holes but then bogeyed the 17TH to miss out by two.