British Open Heads for Furious Finish With Stars Tight at the Top

by Msnbctv news staff

SANDWICH, England — Collin Morikawa and Jordan Spieth had a lot in frequent because the third spherical of the British Open ended on Saturday within the kind of mild breezes and golden, early night gentle extra related to Augusta Nationwide than the English seaside.

Morikawa and Spieth are precocious and considerate American golf stars of their 20s who’ve proved that they’ll win a significant championship. Each are nonetheless in scorching pursuit of Louis Oosthuizen, the mild-mannered South African who stays within the lead however hardly accountable for this main with only one spherical to play at Royal St. George’s.

Oosthuizen is 12 underneath par. Morikawa, who was paired with him on Saturday, is one shot again at 11 underneath. Spieth is in third at 9 underneath.

However although Morikawa and Spieth are in related positions, they completed their rounds in very totally different moods.

Whereas Spieth bogeyed the ultimate two holes, lacking a two-foot putt on the 18th, Morikawa remained unflappable down the stretch after a shaky begin, repeatedly placing himself in promising locations along with his glittering iron play.

Whereas Spieth marched off after his 69, declining to talk with gathered reporters, Morikawa patiently and methodically made his appointed rounds after his 68. Tent by tent, he talked with the Open’s major broadcasters after which, arms folded, walked over to the fence the place, on this pandemic, the remainder of the information media is saved at lengthy microphone’s size.

“Typically you simply want to seek out that momentum,” he mentioned of his down-and-up afternoon. “Hopefully you discover it on the primary gap, however typically it takes a couple of holes, and also you’ve actually simply acquired to dig deep and simply combat by way of it.”

As common, the 24-year-old Morikawa spoke like a veteran, however he stays a newcomer on the British Open and has an opportunity to turn out to be the primary man to win this match in his first look for the reason that American Ben Curtis gained at Royal St. George’s in 2003.

After enjoying with Oosthuizen for the primary time on Saturday, Morikawa will likely be again within the closing pairing with him on Sunday with the claret jug at stake.

Does Morikawa see it as a head-to-head duel?

“This course can produce low scoring,” he mentioned. “We’ve seen it already. So I wouldn’t depend anybody out. I’m not going to have a look at it as a head-to-head. I wish to exit and attempt to birdie as many holes as doable and see what occurs. I can solely management myself. You understand, everybody says that, however that’s the reality. Hopefully, I’ll simply do my finest and play rather well.”

Different high-quality gamers stay inside placing distance. Jon Rahm, the bearded Spaniard who gained the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines final month, is 5 pictures off the lead at seven underneath and has lengthy had an affinity for hyperlinks golf. Corey Conners of Canada and Scottie Scheffler of the US are tied for fourth at eight underneath.

However Oosthuizen and Morikawa will once more be facet by facet on Sunday. Each are aiming for his or her second main championship, and Oosthuizen, 38, has been aiming for fairly a bit longer.

Morikawa gained the P.G.A. Championship in 2020, little greater than a yr after ending his collegiate profession on the College of California, Berkeley.

Oosthuizen gained the British Open in 2010 at St. Andrews, the celebrated Scottish course that defines hyperlinks golf for a lot of. Oosthuizen, who had missed the reduce in seven of his first eight majors and was ranked 54th on the planet, took a commanding five-shot lead within the second spherical and surprisingly held agency to win by seven strokes.

It was a shocking efficiency, and he has remained one of many world’s most interesting and smoothest golfers, ending as runner-up six occasions in main championships. Now he’s again in shut vary after ending in a tie for second at this yr’s P.G.A. Championship and second at this yr’s U.S. Open.

The psychological hurdle stays, and one has to marvel if it’s a psychological block at this stage.

“You understand, ending second isn’t nice, so I’ll play my coronary heart out tomorrow,” Oosthuizen mentioned. “I believe all of us are simply human to consider lifting the trophy, and that’s going to be in your thoughts. However I believe you simply have to understand it and the way to deal with it. As soon as we get on the golf course, it’s all golf. You must consider that you may elevate the trophy as nicely.”

He performed with appreciable resolve on Saturday, beginning the spherical with a two-shot lead over Morikawa and sustaining no less than a share of it all through the spherical regardless of Spieth’s early beneficial properties.

Oosthuizen was at 13 underneath after 10 holes however then bogeyed the par-3 eleventh and the par-4 thirteenth and will solely come away with a par on the par-5 14th, which felt like one other dropped shot contemplating how susceptible the 14th had been to birdies all through the spherical.

He was at that time in a three-way tie for the lead with Spieth and Morikawa at 11 underneath par and seemed to be headed for extra bother when he hit an method shot on 15 into the tough with a 5-iron. However he was capable of recuperate and make a 15-foot putt to save lots of par after which went on to birdie the par-3 sixteenth and end the spherical in additional convincing style.

Oosthuizen mentioned he ought to have hit a 6-iron as a substitute of a 5-iron on 15.

“It was the improper membership,” Oosthuizen mentioned. “I hate making improper choices. I don’t thoughts hitting dangerous pictures, however improper choices are one thing I’ve management over. I used to be a bit upset there however acquired myself rapidly collectively and made a fantastic up-and-down.”

Spieth did loads of high quality scrambling as nicely on Saturday as he performed with Dylan Frittelli, a South African who was as soon as Spieth’s teammate on the College of Texas.

Spieth repeatedly improvised options out of deep tough and awkward stances. He had nice rhythm early within the spherical in addition to a scorching putter, making birdies on 2, 4, 6, 7 and 10 to get to 12 underneath earlier than falling again, closing his eyes in anguish after failing to gap his brief par putt on 18.

The brilliant facet is that he’s again in competition on the British Open, the place he gained in additional acquainted British Open climate — rain and gusting winds — at Royal Birkdale in 2017.

That was Spieth’s third main championship, and after an prolonged hunch, he has reworked his swing and regained confidence at age 27.

On Sunday, with extra sunshine within the forecast, the stress will rise once more.

Morikawa was requested if it might be a matter of whose nerve cracked first.

“I might simply say it’s who is prepared for the second,” he mentioned. “This is a chance for me to exit and hopefully make a fantastic rating and play actually nice golf in a significant championship, a significant I’ve by no means performed in, in order that’s what’s thrilling.”

Oosthuizen has probably the most expertise of the highest three on the leaderboard but in addition probably the most scar tissue.

“He’s been by way of it loads of occasions,” Morikawa mentioned of final-round stress. “I’ve been by way of it, I consider myself, sufficient. So it’s not who cracks. It’s who’s going to take this chance.”

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