Woods stumbles as Snedeker and Scott keep Open lead

21 July 2012 04:46

Brandt Snedeker and Adam Scott were holding firm in the British Open lead in the third round at Royal Lytham on Saturday as a talent-packed array of international talent tried to reel them in.

American Snedeker was leading the way on 10-under par following rounds of 66 and 64 that equalled the lowest first 36 holes in Open and major championship history. Scott, from Australia, was one shot back after rounds of 64 and 67.

Next best was Tiger Woods, who was four shots off the pace, but he missed makeable putts at the first and third to fall further back.

Snedeker, who went bogey-free in the first two rounds, and Scott parred their first three holes, playing risk-free golf and waiting to see if anyone would make a run at them.

Masters champion Bubba Watson was the first to make a move up the leaderboard.

The big-hitting American started the day 10 strokes behind Snedeker, but five birdies in 13 holes against two bogeys saw him close to five off the pace as the leaders set off.

Watson though promptly started heading in the other direction with a bogey at the 14th and a wild double bogey at the next.

World number one Luke Donald of England was also looking to put himself into contention for Sunday, with a birdie at the third getting him to three under.

But he, too, stumbled, taking a double-bogey six at the sixth after failing to get out of a pot bunker.

Woods' partner in the penultimate pairing was a new one for him in the shape of rising Danish player Thorbjorn Olesen, who sunk a monster putt in the fading light of Friday's second round to bag a date with his childhood idol.

Olesen was on five under for the tournament with Scotland's 1999 Open champion Paul Lawrie, US world top-tenner Matt Kuchnar, 2010 US champion Graeme McDowell from Northern Ireland, American Jason Dufner and South African hope Thomas Aiken all a further stroke back.

The Dane held firm with pars on the first three holes to move ahead of Woods.

McDowell dropped a shot at the second, but responded with a birdie at the fourth, while 2007 Masters champion Zach Johnson skipped up the leaderboard with four birdies and a bogey through 13 holes to get to five under.

Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood and Padraig Harrington were among the big names to finish their third rounds early Saturday and all failed to produce the kind of low scoring that could have put them back in the mix.

World No. 3 Westwood fired a one-over par 71 to stand on four-over 214, No. 2 and 2011 US Open champion McIlroy had a 73 to stand at five over and three-time major winner Harrington carded a 70 for two over.

Westwood, who made it 58 majors without a title win, said the pin positions were tricky and there was a slight breeze "but it's still very playable and very scorable out there."

To prove the point, Fiji veteran Vijay Siingh came in with a 68 to leave him at level par 210 after 54 holes.