Louis Oosthuizen has the opportunity to join an elite band of outright wire-to-wire winners at The Open after retaining the lead heading into the final round at Royal St George’s.
Oosthuizen, a runaway winner by seven strokes at St Andrews 11 years ago, has led after each round of The 149th Open so far and will begin Sunday holding a one-shot advantage over Collin Morikawa at -12.
The South African was one clear after an opening-day 64 and doubled his lead with a 65 on Friday that also ensured he set a new record 36-hole score in the Championship.
On a captivating third day, Oosthuizen was caught at various points by Morikawa and Jordan Spieth, but the Champion Golfer of 2010 finished strongly to shoot 69 and reclaim sole possession of first place once again, with Spieth ending the day three back.
In post-war Opens, only three players have lifted the Claret Jug having held the outright lead after every round. We look at the trio Oosthuizen is looking to match in Sandwich.
Tom Weiskopf - 1973
In addition to his success at St Andrews in 2010, Oosthuizen has so far recorded six runner-up finishes in majors.
That gives him a similar record to Tom Weiskopf, who finished second five times but claimed his only major victory in style at Royal Troon in 1973.
A first-round 68 in the worst weather of day one put the American at the head of the field and he stayed clear with scores of 67 and 71.
Weiskopf then finished the job with a 70, winning by three from Neil Coles and Johnny Miller.
“I was at the top of my game,” said the Champion. “I was so confident, everything seemed in slow motion – my thinking, my preparations.”
Tiger Woods – 2005
It took 32 years for another player to lead The Open outright after all four rounds. When it eventually happened, the identity of the man lifting the Claret Jug was certainly no surprise.
Five years after dominating the field at St Andrews in 2000, when he was second after round one but ahead thereafter, Tiger Woods returned to the Old Course to deliver another masterclass.
A 66-67 start left Tiger four clear at the halfway stage and the result already appeared inevitable.
Colin Montgomerie threatened to reel Woods in and delight his home crowd, but the World No.1 was ultimately comfortable as he won by five on -14.
Tiger duly defended the Claret Jug at Royal Liverpool, which would be the venue for The Open’s next wire-to-wire success in 2014.
Rory McIlroy – 2014
Oosthuizen’s 36-hole score of 129 at Royal St George’s this week may have set a new record, but Rory McIlroy had a better score to par after two rounds at Hoylake seven years ago.
Back-to-back 66s on the par-72 layout at Royal Liverpool put McIlroy in command of The 143rd Open and he was six clear after a 68 on day three.
Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler closed in towards the end of the Championship, but nobody could catch McIlroy, who held on to win by two and secure his third major title.
In post-war Opens, three further players - Lee Trevino in 1971, Gary Player in 1974 and Spieth in 2017 – have recorded wire-to-wire wins in which they held at least a share of the lead in every round.