McIlroy slides down the stretch: Notable notes from Round 3 at Carnoustie
A three-way tie for the lead while Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy are on the chase is setting up an exciting final round of The 147th Open. Here are notable notes from Round 3.
McIlroy loses momentum
While there were low numbers to be had on Saturday, many players trying to overpower the course failed to do so. Among them was Rory McIlroy, who entered the day two shots off the lead but finished five off the pace.
McIlroy's round included a 408-yard drive on the par-5 14th hole, which was playing the easiest on the course in Round 3. But with a wedge in his hands he could only manage a birdie like 52 other players in the field Saturday. He got to 7 under for the tournament after a birdie at 15 but made bogeys at 16 and 17.
"I just need to get off to a fast start tomorrow," said McIlroy. "I'm obviously disappointed after the way I finished, but I'm still in the tournament ... The wind is supposed to pick up a little bit. So it will make things interesting."
Final pairing goes in different directions
Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner teed off on Saturday in the final group as co-leaders. They had very different rounds.
Johnson, who typically plays a right-to-left draw, had two loose swings that cost him. He found the burn left of the 4th hole and made bogey. He bounced back by making a monster eagle at the par-5 6th. But after a bogey at 11, he hit a big hook on his approach to the 12th green. His recovery shot left him a long putt and he three-putted for double bogey. He shot 72 and the 2015 Champion Golfer of the Year is now four shots off the pace.
Kevin Kisner meanwhile was the definition of "steady" after double-bogeying his final hole in the second round. He went bogey-free, including a savvy up-and-down from behind the 18th green, to shoot 68 and remain in a tie for the lead.
Carnoustie isn't known for being hospitiable to scoring. But on Saturday, players took advantage of light wind throughout most of the day. The course averaged 70.23 shots. It was the first time Carnoustie yielded an under-par average in the 31 rounds it has hosted an Open.
The par-5 14th hole was the easiest on the day, yielding as many eagles as pars (11). There were tough holes, too. The par-4 12th hole has been the toughest all week and was on Saturday at 4.51 and surrendered just one birdie, from Kevin Chappell. Nos. 16 and 17 are the second and third most difficult holes so far in The 147th Open.
Shot of the day
It was a tough day for Zander Lombard, but he finished with fireworks. The South African followed up a double bogey at 17 with a hole-out from the 18th fairway. Lombard hit gap wedge from 132 yards and gave the crowd a chance to roar.
Fowler roughed up in Hogan's Alley
There were red numbers all over Carnoustie on Saturday, and Rickie Fowler started the day right on pace with two birdies in his first five holes, but his chances to win the Claret Jug and his first major championship were derailed at the par-5 6th hole when he hooked his drive out of bounds. Fowler made a triple bogey and finished with a 2-over 73.
"Got off to a nice start, but I just didn't execute through the middle of the round," said Fowler. "Obviously disappointed. Obviously wanted to take care of -- you know, head in the right direction today, but didn't do that. Back to the drawing board. We'll come out hot tomorrow and see what we can do."
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