Flying solo

Australia's Matthew Millar, ranked No. 922 in the world, made the cut at the Open Championship, but was the odd man out when Saturday's pairings were released. The 34-year-old played by himself in the third round and shot 10-over 80.


Matthew Millar was offered a spotter to accompany him for the third round, but declined and played alone. (Getty Images)

SANDWICH, England (AP) -- At first, it seemed Matthew Millar had been dealt a rough hand when the third-round groupings were decided at the Open Championship.

After making the cut by a stroke with one of the last shots of the second round, the 34-year-old Australian discovered he'd be going out first and on his own on Saturday, the odd man out in a remaining field of 71.

He didn't mind, though. He was used to it.

Millar has spent the last few months playing all alone in freezing, wet and windy conditions in his home city of Canberra -- the Australian capital -- preparing himself for what possibly lay ahead at his first major.

He couldn't have prepared much better. In driving rain and gusts upward of 30 mph on the links course at Royal St. George's, Millar shot a 10-over 80.

"It's been quite cool back home. We've had quite a lot of rain and a lot of wind, so I've been practicing in that," Millar said. "But you don't spend five hours in it like we are doing here. This place is something else. It's hard enough when it's dry."

Rejecting an opportunity to be joined by a club member for his third round, Millar -- ranked No. 922 -- set out in a one-man group at 8:55 a.m. in light drizzle and a strengthening breeze. Halfway through his round, it became more stormy.

The only people accompanying him were his New Zealand caddie, Rod Gutry, and a tournament official. But they weren't alone.

"I just can't believe how many volunteers, spectators, people who were just so encouraging. Would you spend your free weekend out there on this weather? There's nowhere like it in the world, that I've seen," Millar said. "That made it a lot easier to keep your head up and keep battling on."

Millar won't be alone again on Sunday. He may have slipped to an aggregate score of 13 over but he finished one shot clear of 1999 champion Paul Lawrie of Scotland, who currently props up the field.