23 Jul 2023 | Professional golf |
Jason Day chasing history at The Open
by Tony Webeck
Jason Day will need to trump Cameron Smith’s four-stroke comeback of 12 months ago if the Claret Jug is to stay in Australian hands at The Open Championship.
A brilliant front-nine of three-under 32 in Saturday’s third round at Royal Liverpool Golf Club elevated Day into a tie for second just three shots from runaway leader Brian Harman (69).
But a bogey at the par-4 14th and eight pars led to a back nine of 1-over 37 and Round 3 total of 2-under 69, putting Day seven shots back in a tie for fourth with one round left to play.
Day declined any post-round interviews and will start the final round needing to create his own slice of history to win a second major championship.
Paul Lawrie’s 10-shot deficit at the 1999 Open Championship at Carnoustie is the largest 54-hole comeback by a winner at The Open although Greg Norman came from seven back to join a playoff ultimately won by Mark Calcavecchia in 1989.
If Day is to match that he will need to deliver the type of front-nine fireworks he produced on Saturday.
A 3-foot putt for birdie putt on the first set a positive tone, a tone he carried through with a birdie from just inside eight feet at the par-4 second.
He dropped a shot when he was unable to get up-and-down at the par-4 third but got that back when he hit his third shot from the right rough to just three feet at the par-5 fifth.
Day’s fourth and final birdie of the day came at the par-3 ninth, putting in from just off the green to go into the back nine with his tail up.
It was a different story for Min Woo Lee who began the day tied for fourth with Day but was tied for 17th after a round of 1-over 72.
The 24-year-old had bogeys at one, four and six in a front nine of 3-over 38 but clawed some ground back with birdies from seven and 10 feet at 15 and 16.
At 10 shots back, Lee is realistic about his status within the tournament.
“Someone has got to go out and post a score to catch him (Harman), but yeah, I feel like I’m out of the question,” said Lee, who had big sister Minjee in the crowd on Saturday.
“I’ve got to shoot a really, really low score tomorrow, and it’s doable. You get off to a hot start and you can do it.
“Just didn’t have it today.”
Defending champion Cameron Smith had it going and could have played his way back into contention had a few more putts fallen.
Carrying forward the momentum from the eagle on 18 on Friday that got him inside the cut-line, Smith moved up a further 15 places to a tie for 24th with a round of 3-under 68.
It could have been even better had at least three putts on the back nine not lipped out.
“I hit a lot of good putts, particularly on that back nine, that just either skirted the edge or didn’t go in,” said Smith, who went 18 holes without finding a bunker on Saturday.
“Would have been nice to get a few more, but it is what it is.
“I still feel as though I probably left a couple shots out there. But I guess that’s kind of links golf.
“You take the good with the bad.”
Like Smith, Kiwi Ryan Fox continued his ascension on the leaderboard, following up his 67 on Friday with a 2-under 69 on Saturday to move into a tie for 41st.
“I’m in a good spot,” Fox reasoned.
“If I can put a good round together tomorrow I can turn this into a pretty good week after what was a pretty shocking first round.”
Round 3 scores 1 Brian Harman 67-65-69—201 T4 Jason Day 72-67-69—208 T17 Min Woo Lee 71-68-72—211 T24 Cameron Smith 72-72-68—212 T41 Ryan Fox (NZ) 78-67-69—214 T57 Adam Scott 72-73-71—216
Final Round tee times AEST 6.20pm Victor Perez, Adam Scott 7.45pm Sami Valimaki, Ryan Fox (NZ) 9pm Patrick Reed, Cameron Smith 9.20pm Rickie Fowler, Min Woo Lee 10.55pm Jason Day, Antoine Rozner
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