Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland lead The Open after beautiful third rounds | The Open

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Twenty-nine majors, or 2,898 days, have come and gone for Rory McIlroy since he lifted the US PGA Championship trophy in Valhalla. Shortly after 1 / 4 previous seven on the third day of this a hundred and fiftieth Open Championship, McIlroy jumped to the highest of the leaderboard. He’ll begin the fourth spherical tied for that place and, extra considerably, 18 holes behind Seve Ballesteros’ massive profitable tally.

The Spaniard would certainly approve of McIlroy claiming quantity 5 at St Andrews. Within the area of just about eight sometimes painful years, McIlroy has by no means come nearer to reaching such a feat. He has by no means appeared extra able to pulling it off. Nonetheless, the 33-year-old will know all too nicely the powerful roads forward of him. In Viktor Hovland, who shares 16 below with McIlroy, the Northern Irishman has a formidable opponent. The duo traded blows like famous person boxers on day three right here. Combining 66 felt completely acceptable as McIlroy and Hovland parted methods from the sphere.

Not that it is smart to rule out all suitors totally. Hovland and McIlroy’s scale of brilliance made it troublesome to check an alternate champion. Cameron Younger and Cameron Smith are nearer to the leaders at 12 below. Kim Si-woo is just a little additional again, together with World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler. Kim’s 67 was the bottom rating of the third day of that group.

If McIlroy emerges victorious, ideas will flip to the essential second of the third spherical. A bunker shot from about 30 yards is meant to be the toughest shot in golf. What a mockery of that idea at 10, the place he holed out for an eagle. What do McIlroy and the massive championship sand traps have? He jumped for pleasure at Augusta Nationwide after hitting the underside of the cup on the 72nd gap from a greenside bunker. In Fife, McIlroy punched the air to enthusiastic applause.

Hovland had flown from the traps. The Norwegian rattled off 4 birdies in a row from the third. McIlroy, who had missed alternatives, was the person below stress. His response, courtesy of birdies at 5, 6 and 9 earlier than heroics at 10, was that of a champion. Hovland and McIlroy have been now degree at 15 below par.

McIlroy’s subsequent lead, gained on the 14th, was nullified on the penultimate gap. Hovland cleverly saved the pair from a path. McIlroy, whose second shot was lengthy sufficient to go away simply sufficient room for a backswing towards the perimeter wall, could not rating greater than 5. Each gamers made birdies on the finish, with the dimensions of mutual gratitude for what had occurred in the course of the earlier 4 and 1 / 4 hours completely clear.

Viktor Hovland tees off within the sixth throughout his spectacular third spherical. {Photograph}: Tom Jenkins/The Observer

Dustin Johnson, the LIV maverick almost certainly to win the Open, hit 12 below par after a dozen holes. He was three forward. Bogeys on the thirteenth, 14th and sixteenth stopped charging him. The previous World No. 1 birdied the tip after a smashed drive, however 10-under requires billiards.

Tommy Fleetwood and Matt Fitzpatrick sit at zero under 9. Fleetwood turned in a 66. Tyrrell Hatton began the day with minus eight, however dropped to 73. Hatton watched his teammate Talor Gooch’s sluggish play with murderous intent.

This may very well be a memorable weekend for Filippo Celli, the Italian beginner, who’s in pole place to gather the silver medal. Celli is 4 below par after a 71. He has his eyes on a jackpot subsequent September in his homeland. “I hope to be that Italian boy who will play within the Ryder Cup in Rome,” Celli stated. “It could be nice.”

Shane Lowry chipped in an eagle on the ninth earlier than repeating the feat on the following gap. Such a situation hadn’t introduced itself at an Open since 2001. Lowry had hit 9 below par on the time, which meant his place at minus seven on the shut of the sport was a frustration. The 2019 champion believes he has “no probability” of a second Open victory.

“I felt like midway by means of the entrance 9 I used to be doing okay, not doing something good,” Lowry defined. “Clearly 9 and 10 handed and I felt like I used to be within the event.

“I am fairly upset and fairly offended, to be trustworthy. I hold telling myself and I hold telling myself on a regular basis that you simply wish to get to the again 9 on a Saturday with an opportunity to do one thing nice. I received there at the moment and I did not act. In order that’s very disappointing.”

Jordan Spieth’s 68 moved it to minus eight. “I am going to most likely take an ice tub tonight,” he stated. “Ice baths are rather more troublesome in Scotland than in Memphis.” Spieth is fortunate that he solely visits these shores in the summertime.

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“I want some sort of loopy monsoon coming tomorrow to face an opportunity,” Spieth added. “Even when I shoot eight under zero, I nonetheless suppose I lose by greater than three. I am ready the place taking pictures seven or eight would imply a very robust end and acquire loads of momentum. There will probably be no ‘giving up’. It is not like I am forty fifth.”

Xander Schauffele made an eagle on the finish, however two sixes within the again 9 had already killed his possibilities. Schauffele sits at minus 5. Jon Rahm and Will Zalatoris are in the identical group. Justin Thomas’s birdie three on the seventeenth at 15:15 was the primary of the day on that well-known gap, which performed extra like a par 5. McIlroy and Hovland, Ryder Cup teammates, reached that time whereas nonetheless within the midst of open warfare. It was essentially the most charming sports activities theater.

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