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

SANDWICH, England — Collin Morikawa and Jordan Spieth had a lot in frequent as the third spherical of the British Open ended on Saturday in the kind of light breezes and golden, early night mild extra related to Augusta National 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. Both are nonetheless in scorching pursuit of Louis Oosthuizen, the mild-mannered South African who stays in the lead however hardly answerable for this main with only one spherical to play at Royal St. George’s.

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

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

While 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.

While 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.

“Sometimes you just need to find that momentum,” he mentioned of his down-and-up afternoon. “Hopefully you find it on the first hole, but sometimes it takes a few holes, and you’ve really just got to dig deep and just fight through it.”

As traditional, the 24-year-old Morikawa spoke like a veteran, however he stays a newcomer at the British Open and has an opportunity to grow to be the first man to win this event in his first look since the American Ben Curtis received at Royal St. George’s in 2003.

Louis Oosthuizen, left, leads Collin Morikawa by only one stroke heading into the ultimate spherical of the British Open.Credit…Peter Morrison/Associated Press

After taking part in with Oosthuizen for the first time on Saturday, Morikawa will likely be again in the ultimate 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 count anyone out. I am not going to look at it as a head-to-head. I want to go out and try to birdie as many holes as possible and see what happens. I can only control myself. You know, everyone says that, but that’s the truth. Hopefully, I’ll just do my best and play really well.”

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

But Oosthuizen and Morikawa will once more be aspect by aspect on Sunday. Both are aiming for their second main championship, and Oosthuizen, 38, has been aiming for fairly a bit longer.

Morikawa received the P.G.A. Championship in 2020, little greater than a yr after ending his collegiate profession at the University of California, Berkeley.

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

It was a shocking efficiency, and he has remained one in every of the world’s best 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 know, finishing second isn’t great, so I will play my heart out tomorrow,” Oosthuizen mentioned. “I think all of us are just human to think of lifting the trophy, and that’s going to be in your mind. But I think you just need to know it and how to handle it. Once we get on the golf course, it’s all golf. You need to believe that you can lift the trophy as well.”

He performed with appreciable resolve on Saturday, beginning the spherical with a two-shot lead over Morikawa and sustaining at least a share of it all through the spherical regardless of Spieth’s early good points.

Oosthuizen was at 13 beneath after 10 holes however then bogeyed the par-Three 11th and the par-Four 13th 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.

Morikawa mentioned the winner is “not who cracks. It’s who is going to take this opportunity.”Credit…Andy Buchanan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

He was at that time in a three-way tie for the lead with Spieth and Morikawa at 11 beneath par and gave the impression to be headed for extra bother when he hit an method shot on 15 into the tough with a 5-iron. But he was capable of recuperate and make a 15-foot putt to save lots of par after which went on to birdie the par-Three 16th and end the spherical in additional convincing trend.

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

“It was the wrong club,” Oosthuizen mentioned. “I hate making wrong decisions. I don’t mind hitting bad shots, but wrong decisions are something I have control over. I was a bit upset there but got myself quickly together and made a great up-and-down.”

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

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

The vivid aspect is that he’s again in competition at the British Open, the place he received 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 droop, he has reworked his swing and regained confidence at age 27.

On Sunday, with extra sunshine in the forecast, the strain will rise once more.

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

“I would just say it’s who is ready for the moment,” he mentioned. “This is an opportunity for me to go out and hopefully make a great score and play really great golf in a major championship, a major I’ve never played in, so that’s what’s exciting.”

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

“He’s been through it plenty of times,” Morikawa mentioned of final-round strain. “I have been through it, I believe myself, enough. So it’s not who cracks. It’s who is going to take this opportunity.”