It's Moving Day after all
When it comes to The Open you will often hear players who are way off the lead after two rounds suggesting that they are still in with a chance of winning. They are not to be taken lightly.
What they know – and what history has shown - is that conditions can change quickly and dramatically on coastal links courses, so much so that a good score in the morning may prove impossible to match in the afternoon.
“Who knows, a couple of 64s over the weekend and I could be right up there,” they will say. This, after all, is moving day.
If inspiration were needed, they could recall David Duval’s burst from the pack at Royal Lytham & St Annes in 2001. Duval made the 36-hole cut by just two strokes and trailed Colin Montgomerie, the leader, by seven.
But after a third round of 65, the American went into the final day in a four-way tie for the lead and emerged Champion Golfer of the Year after a 67 that brought him victory by three strokes. It was mercurial play from a player who went on to become world No.1.
At Carnoustie today, Justin Rose and Chris Wood each took a leaf out of Duval’s book. In benign conditions – warm and with barely a breath of wind – the two Englishman set the course alight in the morning’s play.
Rose, who started his round nine strokes off the lead, actually compiled one of those magical 64s, made up of seven birdies and 11 pars. After getting in on the cut line with a birdie at the last hole the previous evening, the former US Open champion played like a man reprieved.
“The birdie on the 18th last night freed me up, and I'm just very happy to be out on this golf course and not down the road somewhere else this morning,” he said. “So that might have been part of the shift in mindset today. Obviously, I had nothing to lose from that point of view.”
As Rose was finishing, the leaders were yet to set off. On four under par he had climbed to within two strokes of the summit and was hoping that conditions might toughen up enough to keep him within touching distance.
The same could be said of Chris Wood, who started his round trailing by eight shots but drew to within one of the lead with his seventh birdie at the 13th. A rare mistake at the 14th, and another at the 17th, cost him some momentum, however, and he had to settle for a 66 that left him three strokes off the pace.
With Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner underway, the cheers from the course were being caused by Tiger Woods. The three-time Champion Golfer had started his round on level par but shot 66 to move within three of the lead. Could he keep it going? Only time would tell. But as shakers and movers go, they do not get much bigger.
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