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Live Notes: Round 3
Just keep refreshing this page all day long, as our crew in Southport will keep you up to date on all the happenings at the 137th Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.
All times Eastern
SELECT GROUP: Greg Norman will be seeking to become the 20th player with at least three wins at the Open Championship. The list includes:
|5||James Braid, J.H. Taylor, Peter Thomson, Tom Watson|
|4||Walter Hagen, Bobby Locke, Tom Morris Jr., Tom Morris Sr., Willie Park Sr.|
|3||Jamie Anderson, Seve Ballesteros, Henry Cotton, Nick Faldo, Bob Ferguson, Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Tiger Woods|
-- John Bush, 4:50 p.m.
CHOI SAYS HE'S STILL IN IT: K.J. Choi is bidding to become the first Asian male to win the Open Championship and he believes he can deny the crowd favorites, 53-year-old Greg Norman and defending champion Padraig Harrington in his history-making bid.
"I enjoy the golf course, and I'm comfortable on this course. Today was tougher than the third round at Carnoustie in 1999 when the winds were 35 miles per hour then, but today was more than that.
"I couldn't control my tee shot or putting. The key was the putting. I was scared when I took a backswing as the wind was moving the ball. I?m still in a good position. Five over par today is still OK," said Choi.
Choi, nicknamed "The Tank", will play in the second-to-ast pairing in Sunday?s final round and said that a two-shot deficit wasn?t much at Royal Birkdale.
"If it is windy tomorrow, it will be tough for everyone. I had a hard time with my putting. Tomorrow, it'll be important for me to putt well. I missed about three or four putts from inside four feet. I try to hit it harder but it was always short. The wind was blowing which made it tough," Choi said. -- Asian Tour, 3:25 p.m.
THE SHARK IS SMELLING BLOOD: Greg Norman birdied No. 17, nearly birdied No. 18, but settled for par, and ended Saturday with a two-shot lead on defending champion Padraig Harrington and K.J. Choi. Interstingly enough, Norman has played two European Tour events this season. In each, he finished at even par.
It's hard to imagine that a third even-par wouldn't bring him a third Open Championship victory. -- Mark Spoor, 2:55 p.m.
TALK ABOUT NIGHT AND DAY: The cut at the U.S. Bank Championship at Milwaukee was 2 under. Greg Norman has the 54-hole lead at the Open Championship at 2 over. -- Melanie Hauser, 2:54 p.m.
HE'S AT IT AGAIN: It's probably safe to say that 53-year-old Greg Norman has played less golf over the past few years than any other player in the field at Royal Birkdale.
However, the Shark isn't letting that bother him.
After K.J. Choi took a bogey at the par-5 15th hole to Norman's par, the Shark took sole-possession of the lead at 3 over.
With three holes to play in the third round, Norman is now a shot clear of Choi and defending champion Padraig Harrington on his quest to becoming the oldest major champion in the history of the game. -- T.J. Auclair, 2:06 p.m.
NOT BAD FOR A ROOKIE: Making his first appearance at the Open Championship, Anthony Kim posted a 1-over 71 to stay in contention at the third major championship of the year. The two-time PGA TOUR winner in 2008 is seeking to become the 11th player in Open history to win in his first attempt. The list is as follows:
|Tom Kidd||St Andrews||1873|
|Jock Hutchison||St Andrews||1921|
|Densmore Shute||St Andrews||1933|
|Tony Lema||St Andrews||1964|
-- John Bush, 1:58 p.m.
PROUD OF HIS FORMER BOSS: Tony Navarro spent years caddying for Greg Norman. Now Navarro and his man Adam Scott are chasing the Shark.
Navarro said he isn't surprised to see the 53-year-old playing well.
"I am surprised, but I'm not surprised," he said. "He knows how to hit the shots here. And because he knows he can hit the shots, he's more patient. He's got a real good flight on his golf ball.
"I just hope he keeps doing what he's doing."
Scott is plus-11 going into the weekend after a third-round 77. Had they played a bit better, Navarro could have faced off against his old boss. "That," he said, "would have been awesome." -- Melanie Hauser, 1:49 p.m.
LEAD UPDATE, TAKE 3: Greg Norman has birdied the par-3 14th to
tie K.J. Choi for the lead at 3 over. Norman has two birdies, three bogeys and one double bogey so far this afternoon;to also sit 3 over for the day. -- Mark Spoor, 1:27 p.m.
LEAD UPDATE, TAKE 2: K.J. Choi took the outright lead again after holing a 25-foot birdie putt on the par-4 13th hole to get to 3-over par for the day.
Choi is in the lead by himself despite two double bogeys in the third round. Prior to Saturday, Choi had made just five bogeys over the first 36 holes.
Choi isn't alone in the double-bogey department. Padraig Harrington and Greg Norman -- who are just one shot back -- have made on double bogey each on Saturday. -- T.J. Auclair, 1:23 p.m.
LEAD UPDATE: Defending Open champion Padraig Harrington has made it a three-way tie at the top of the leaderboard at 4-over par with K.J. Choi and Greg Norman after his birdie at No. 15.
Harrington is looking to become the first player to win the Open in consecutive wins since Tiger Woods turned the trick in 2006 at Royal Liverpool after winning at St. Andrews in 2005. Interestingly, only six players have managed to pick up back-to-back wins at the Open since 1951. Of the six, five of those players won one of those Opens at Royal Birkdale. -- T.J. Auclair, 1:05 p.m.
REMEMBER THIS GUY? We haven't heard Anthony Kim's name much this week, but after making eagle on No. 17 and parring No. 18, Kim is in the clubhouse at 7 over, just three shots off the lead heading inro the final round of his first career Open Championship. -- Mark Spoor, 12:59 p.m.
THE TOUGH GET TOUGHER: It's not often that you keep the lead after making double bogey, but both Greg Norman and K.J. Choi have.
Both made 6s on the par-4 10th, but they still hold a one-shot advantage over defending champion Padraig Harrington and Simon Wakefield, who is in the most enviable position -- the clubhouse, after posting an ever-par 70. -- Mark Spoor, 12:38 p.m.
IN THE BAG: Greg Norman has seemingly made everything he's looked at this week on the greens, and some of the success can be traced to his putter.
Norman placed a MacGregor DCT Captiva Prototype in his bag for the British Open. The choice was easy; Norman became Chairman of MacGregor Golf last fall.
What's in the rest of Norman's bag:
- 2009 MacGregor VIP Pro irons with diamondback muscle
- MacGregor MT Driver (8.5 degrees)
- MacGregor Don White Wedges
-- Ryan Smithson, 12:05 p.m.
LOGJAM IN THE WIND: A lot has changed in the last five minutes.
K.J. Choi missed a short par putt at No. 8; Jim Furyk made back-to-back birdies at Nos. 8 and 9; Padriag Harrington saved a nice par at No. 9; and Greg Norman holed a 10-foot birdie putt on No. 8.
Now there's a four-way share of the lead at 2-over par. -- T.J. Auclair, 11:41 a.m.
SWEPT AWAY: According to this table on the weather section on the BBC website, the winds assaulting Royal Birkdale are between Force 8 and 9.
Judging from the descriptions below, the flagsticks could be in jeopardy as the day progresses. Parents had best hold tight to the hands of their children, too, lest they get swept away.
|British wind classifications|
|Force 1||2 mph||Smoke drifts|
|Force 2||5 mph||Leaves rustle|
|Force 3||10 mph||Flags flutter|
|Force 4||15 mph||Small branches move|
|Force 5||21 mph||Small trees sway|
|Force 6||28 mph||Large branches move|
|Force 7||35 mph||Whole trees sway|
|Force 8||43 mph||Twigs break|
|Force 9||50 mph||Branches break|
|Force 10||59 mph||Trees blow down|
|Force 11||69 mph||Serious damage|
|Force 12||74 mph||Hurricane damage|
-- Helen Ross, 11:27 a.m.
ALMOST GONE: In a matter of minutes, K.J. Choi's three-shot advantage in the Open Championship has been reduced to one shot.
The South Korean made a double-bogey 6 at the sixth hole, which has played as the most difficult on the course throughout the week. With that blunder, Choi is now just one shot clear of defending champion Padraig Harrington and two ahead of Greg Norman and Jim Furyk.
Of those players, Harrington is the only one who has turned on to the back nine. See his scorecard. -- T.J. Auclair -- 11:17 a.m.
DEVASTATED DUVAL: David Duval isn't exactly off to the start he was looking for in the third round of the Open Championship.
Duval, who started the day just one shot off the lead just three shots off the lead at 2-over par, made a triple-bogey 7 on No. 1 to start round 3 and has followed that with three consecutive bogeys. He went out in 44.
After 10 holes, the 2001 Open champion is 10 over for the day and now and 12 over for the tournament. -- T.J. Auclair, 11:10 a.m.
CURTIS UPDATE: Well, after much fanfare early, Ben Curtis ended his third round at even par, which in these conditions is no small feat. He'll start tomorrow's
final round at 7 over, which is exactly where he was after the first seven holes of the tournament.
Below is Curtis' performance through the first three rounds this week:
|Stat||Round 1||Round 2||Round 3||Round 4||Total|
-- T.J. Auclair and Mark Spoor, 11:02 a.m.
HISTORY TELLS US: The third-round leader has gone on to win 15 of 28 stroke-play events on the 2008 PGA TOUR. Dating back to the 1958 Open Championship, the 54-hole leader/co-leader has prevailed 28 times in 50 attempts. In eight previous Open Championships held at Royal Birkdale, the 54-hole leader has prevailed six times, including most recently Ian Baker-Finch in 1991.
Previous third-round leaders/co-leaders at Royal Birkdale are listed below with eventual finish:
-- John Bush, 10:42 a.m.
GOOD, BUT NOT HISTORIC: While Davis Love III and Henrik Stenson's even-par 70s are far from the 6-under 64 Ian Baker-Finch recorded during the third round in 1991, when you factor in winds blowing up to 50 mph, they may be just as remarkable. Here are the best third-round scores posted at Royal Birkdale during the previous eight Open Championships:
--John Bush, 10:17 a.m.
LOVING EVEN PAR: The Open Championship is one of the few tournaments in the world where a player can shoot even par on a Saturday -- "moving day" -- and gain a whole lot of ground.
Davis Love III finished his round about 30 minutes before the leaders teed off. Love shot an even-par 70 to maintain his total of 9 over. Even so, that was good enough to jump 38 spots (at the time) from a tie for 69th to a tie for 31st.
Love's round was impressive considering the conditions. He was extremely consistent, making 16 pars, a birdie and one bogey.
The wind will be the ultimate equalizer on Saturday and it wouldn't be shocking to see Love move up even a few more spots by the time play ends. -- T.J. Auclair, 10:04 a.m.
MR. CONSISTENCY: South Africa's Retief Goosen always seems to contend in the majors. Aside from two wins at the U.S. Open -- his only top-10 finishes in that event -- the Open Championship has been Goosen's most consistent major.
In 11 starts, Goosen has finished in the top 15 on eight occasions, including a string of four top 10s from 2002-2005.
Goosen started the third round seven shots of the lead at 6 over. Through 10 holes on Saturday, he's even par for the day, which is impressive considering the whipping winds that have greeted the field in the third round.
Goosen started the round with bogeys on two of his first four holes, but righted the ship with three birdies to close the front nine for a 1-over 33.
Here's a look at Goosen in the Open:
|Year||Venue||Finish||Score to par|
|2006||Royal Liverpool Golf Club||T-14||-7|
|2005||Old Course at St. Andrews||T-5||-7|
|2004||Royal Troon G.C.||T-7||-4|
|2003||Royal St. George's G.C.||T-10||+4|
|2001||Royal Lytham & St. Annes G.C.||T-13||-4|
|2000||Old Course at St. Andrews||T-41||-1|
|1998||Royal Birkdale G.C.||CUT||+10|
|1997||Royal Troon G.C.||T-10||-2|
|1996||Royal Lytham & St. Annes G.C.||75||+9|
|1993||Royal St. George's G.C.||CUT||+5|
-- T.J. Auclair, 9:58 a.m.
EXCHANGE RATE: The 4,200,000 (GBP) overall purse will be converted at 1.9985, based on the Exchange Rate from the Federal Reserve that was published at noon on Friday, July 18. In U.S. dollars, the winner of Sunday's tournament will collect $1,510,866 out of the overall purse of $8,393,700. -- John Bush, 9:44 a.m.
RAMPING UP: The weather forecasters have been fooled several times this week when it comes to predicting when the rain will hit. But they were spot-on with today's wind.
As if on cue, just a few minutes after 2 p.m. local, the gusts ramped up to 40-plus. When one hits, it's a minimum 4-club wind..
There are even whitecaps whipping across the North Sea. -- Melanie Hauser, 9:41 a.m.
YOU TALKIN' TO ME? Paul Casey couldn't believe he had finished three rounds at the Open Championship at 12 over and reporters wanted to talk to him.
"That makes you realize how difficult it is out there," the Englishman said. "There's obviously some great golf being played by the guys at the top of the leaderboard."
Of course, Casey's round of 73 on Saturday was nothing to sneeze at given the brutal windy conditions at Royal Birkdale.
"The balls are moving on the green," Casey said. "I had one move on the eighth today. They're certainly oscillating on the greens and it makes it very difficult."
Casey made two double bogeys on Saturday, one of which came courtesy of a lost ball at the 15th hole, but he also managed three birdies, including the last at the 18th hole. Asked how he would rate his performance, the Arizona State product said, "Quite highly.
"I managed to hit 15 greens in regulation, so with the mistakes I made, it was a great round of golf. Even threw in a couple of three-putts on the back nine as well. I probably should have been a lot better than that with the way I struck the ball.
"My putting leaves a lot to be desired."
Indeed. Through three rounds, Casey has used 101 putts, 35 of which came Saturday.
See his scorecard.
-- Helen Ross, 9:30 a.m.
FUN, BUT COLD: Heath Slocum, the last man in the field for the 137th Open Championship, wishes he had a few more turtlenecks, but he's enjoyed his first taste of links golf. Even with the howling wind and cold rain to battle.
"Growing up, I don't remember the days when it's nice and sunny watching it on TV," said Slocum after braving near-gale-force winds to shoot 74 on Saturday.
"I remember the days when you couldn't even take an umbrella out so that kind of stuck in your head. It's a challenge. It's different than what I'm used to playing."
Not even a double on the last hole, where Slocum misjudged the rough and went on to three-putt, could dampen his enthusiasm. He said he'd never played in wind as tough as what he's faced for five days straight like he has this week at Royal Birkdale.
"This is cold ball-goes-nowhere wind," Slocum said. "You're amazed when its 127 (yards) and you're, like, 6- or 7-(iron). It's hard to make that choice, but it's a lot of fun. It is such a challenge.
"The good thing about links golf is you can run it up. You don't have to sit there and fly it to the hole, you can actually use some imagination and chip a 4-iron."
Slocum just wishes he'd brought some different things to wear.
"My wife said, 'I'll ship some clothes over,'" he recalled. "I checked the forecast and I said, 'It actually looks quite nice. Don't worry about it.' Two days later i was like, well, I messed up there." -- Helen Ross, 8:48 a.m.
CHARGING: Don't look now, but another former Open champion has jumped onto the leaderboard.
Ben Curtis, who came out of nowhere to win the 2003 Open at St. George's, was 3-under after seven holes, then bogeyed Nos. 11 and 12,
at plus-6 for the tournament.
Here's a look at Curtis' history at the Open Championship:
|Ben Curtis at the Open Championship|
|Year||Venue||Finish||Score to par|
|2006||Royal Liverpool Golf Club||CUT||+2|
|2005||Old Course at St. Andrews||CUT||+4|
|2004||Royal Troon G.C.||CUT||+7|
|2003||Royal St. George's G.C.||Win||-1|
COMFORT RULES: You won't find many fashionable statements at this Open Championship.
Everyone in the gallery is bundled up in jumpers and bulky jackets and some of the head coverings are just this side of Cousin Eddie's hunting cap from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Some burrow down in the grass on the dunes to shield themselves from the wind.
On the course, most players go with the traditional cap or visor. Some layer a knitted cap and a traditional cap. And then there's Henrik Stenson who has the knitted ski type cap which dips to cover his ears. -- Melanie Hauser, 8:25 a.m.
TABLOID HEADLINE OF THE DAY: In The Mirror: Above a picture of Chris Evert kissing Greg Norman after his round KISSY (red heart symbol) EVERT
Inside, the headline screams: "I was put on this earth to help Greg to relax." Those tabs never exaggerate, do they? -- Melanie Hauser, 8:23 a.m.
HOW WINDY IS IT? Even the seagulls have taken shelter. Nick Faldo, on an early TV show, said he saw the birds nesting on the fairways at Hillside Golf Club right next to Birkdale.
Other signs? Tents flapping, caps flying and trying to open your car door. And, at 11 a.m. local time it was only a steady 24 mph with gusts to 38.
But the worst is yet to come. Around 2 p.m -- the time David Duval and Padraig Harrington tee -- wind gusts are expected to kick up over 45 mph. Friday afternoon, Paddy said, "Bring it on." He might want to be careful what he wishes for. -- Melanie Hauser, 6:25 a.m.
HOW DID WE MISS THIS? Lucas Glover's tee shot on the par-3 12th on Friday landed in a spectator's pocket. Glover got a free drop at the point where the spectator was standing -- to the left -- and got up and down for par. -- Melanie Hauser, 8:25 a.m.
STIFF STARTING HOLE: Half of the first 38 players off the tee took bogey or higher to open the day. Three players doubled the hole and two ? Americans Lucas Glover and John Rollins ? took triples. Glover and Lee Westwood, in fact, dropped shots on the first two holes. -- Melanie Hauser, 6:25 a.m.
|More Open Championship:|
|Open Championship Video|
|Norman refuses to fold|
|Villegas' birdie finish|
|Rocco rolling along|
|Furyk finds right ball flight|
WEATHER REPORT: The sun finally broke through the clouds at Royal Birkdale on Saturday morning, but the winds were stronger than ever.
TV commentators on the BBC were already speculating about whether the gusts, expected to peak at between 45-48 mph, might cause a stoppage in play. When the Open Championship was played at Royal Birkdale in 1998, the competition was halted for about 30 minutes on Friday because balls were oscillating on the greens.
Scattered, squally showers are also expected off and on throughout the day but the players should be used to the rain by now. Temperatures will hover in the 50s but could seem much cooler with the strong gusts.
Sunday's forecast calls for scattered showers early but those should cease by the time the leaders tee off. The winds, though, will continue to blow from the northwest at 25-30 mph with gusts to 35 mph. -- Helen Ross, 5:44 a.m.
MOVE ON BACK: Due to the strong winds, the Championship Committee of the R&A has moved the tees up on the sixth, 11th and 16th holes, a trio of difficult par 4s.
As a result, No. 6 will play 13 yards shorter at 486, the 11th 78 yards shorter at 436 and the 16th 68 yards shorter at 371. The latter two holes were already problematic with extremely long carries just to reach the fairway. -- Helen Ross, 5:44 a.m.