British Open Heads for Furious Finish With Stars Tight at the Top
SANDWICH, England – Collin Morikawa and Jordan Spieth had a lot in common as the third round of the British Open ended on Saturday in the kind of soft breeze and golden light in the early evening more associated with Augusta National than at the edge of English sea.
Morikawa and Spieth are early and thoughtful American golf stars in their 20s who have proven they can win a major championship. Both are still in pursuit of Louis Oosthuizen, the mild-mannered South African who remains in the lead but barely in charge of that major with just one round to go at Royal St. George’s.
Oosthuizen is 12 under par. Morikawa, who was paired with him on Saturday, is one stroke under 11 points. Spieth is third at nine under.
But while Morikawa and Spieth are in similar positions, they ended their runs in very different moods.
As Spieth missed the last two holes, missing a two-foot putt on the 18th, Morikawa remained unfazed after a shaky start, repeatedly placing himself in promising spots with his sparkling iron game.
While Spieth left after his 69, refusing to speak to the assembled reporters, Morikawa patiently and methodically made his rounds after his 68. Tent by tent, he spoke with the main broadcasters of the Open and then, with folded arms, s ‘is headed towards the fence where, in this pandemic, the rest of the news media are held at a microphone distance.
“Sometimes you just need to find that momentum,” he said of his hectic afternoon. “Hope you find it on the first hole, but sometimes it takes a few holes, and you have to really dig deep and just fight through.”
As usual, Morikawa, 24, has spoken like a veteran, but he remains a newcomer to the British Open and has a chance of becoming the first man to win this tournament in his first appearance since American Ben Curtis won at Royal St. George’s in 2003.
After playing with Oosthuizen for the first time on Saturday, Morikawa will be back in the final duet with him on Sunday with the burgundy jug in play.
Does Morikawa see it as a duel?
“This course can produce low scores,” he said. “We’ve seen it before. So I wouldn’t count anyone. I’m not going to see it as a one-on-one. I want to go out and try to birdies as many holes as I can and see what happens. I can only control myself. You know, everyone says that, but it’s the truth. I hope I will do my best and play really well.
Other high-quality players stay within striking distance. Jon Rahm, the bearded Spaniard who won the US Open at Torrey Pines last month, is five strokes short of seven and has a long affinity for the links. Corey Conners of Canada and Scottie Scheffler of the United States are tied for fourth at eight under.
But Oosthuizen and Morikawa will be side by side again on Sunday. The two are aiming for their second major championship, and Oosthuizen, 38, is aiming a little longer.
Morikawa won the PGA Championship in 2020, just over a year after completing his college career at the University of California, Berkeley.
Oosthuizen won the British Open in 2010 at St. Andrews, the famous Scottish course that defines golf for many. Oosthuizen, who had missed the cut in seven of his first eight majors and was ranked 54th in the world, took a five-stroke lead in the second round and surprisingly held on to win by seven strokes.
It was a mind-blowing performance and he has remained one of the finest and smoothest golfers in the world, finishing second six times in major championships. Now he’s back at close range after finishing tied for second at this year’s PGA Championship and second at this year’s US Open.
The mental barrier remains, and you have to ask yourself if it is a mental block at this point.
“You know, finishing second isn’t great, so I’m going to play with all my heart tomorrow,” said Oosthuizen. “I think we’re all human to think about lifting the trophy, and it’s going to be on your mind. But I think you just need to know it and how to handle it. Once on the golf course, everything is golf. You have to believe that you can also lift the trophy. “
He played with considerable determination on Saturday, starting the round with a two-stroke lead over Morikawa and retaining at least a share throughout the round despite Spieth’s early wins.
Oosthuizen was 13 under after 10 holes, but then bugged the 11th par-3 and 13th par-4 and could only come away with one par on the 14th par-5, which looked like another lost shot considering of the vulnerability of the 14th. to birdies throughout the tour.
He was then tied three for the lead with Spieth and Morikawa at 11 under par and looked to be heading for more trouble when he hit a 15-inch approach shot into the rough with a 5 iron. But he was able to recover and putt 15 feet to save the par, then birdieed the 16th par-3 and finished the round more convincingly.
Oosthuizen said he should have hit a 6 iron instead of a 5 of 15 iron.
“It was the wrong club,” Oosthuizen said. “I hate making bad decisions. I don’t mind hitting bad shots, but bad decisions are something I have control over. I was a little upset there, but I quickly pulled myself together and went back and forth.
Spieth also did a lot of quality scrambling on Saturday as he played with Dylan Frittelli, a South African who was once Spieth’s teammate at the University of Texas.
Spieth repeatedly improvised solutions from rough and awkward positions. He had good pace early in the round as well as a hot putter, birding on 2, 4, 6, 7 and 10 to get to 12 cents before falling back, closing his eyes in anguish after failing to punch his hole. short putt. 18.
The silver lining is he’s back in contention at the British Open, where he won in more familiar British Open weather – rain and gusts of wind – at the Royal Birkdale in 2017.
It was Spieth’s third major championship, and after a prolonged slump he reworked his swing and regained his confidence at 27.
Sunday, with more sunshine, the pressure will rise again.
Morikawa was asked if it would be a question of which nerve broke first.
“I would just say that’s who’s ready at the moment,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for me to come out and hopefully make a good score and play really good golf in a major league, a major I’ve never played so that’s what it is. exciting.”
Oosthuizen has the most experience in the top three, but also the most scar tissue.
“He’s been through this a few times,” Morikawa said of the pressure in the final round. “I have lived it, I believe myself, enough. It is therefore not that cracking. This is who will seize this opportunity.
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