The players at the bottom of the leaderboard are now finishing up the third round of the British Open, and once again low numbers and birdie opportunities are available for the morning tee times. The wind is once again up, coming out of the east to confound players who had not played with or prepared for that prevailing breeze. There are already two players in the clubhouse with posted rounds in the 60s, but can those favorable scoring conditions hold up?
Richard Sterne, who started the day on the cut line at 8-over, fired a third round 68 to make up three shots on the field early. The South African is having one of the best seasons on either tour, and he carded just one bogey at No. 4 before playing the final 14 holes in 4-under. Sterne's playing partner also shot a good score, as blast-from-the-past Shingo Katayama turned in a round of 2-under 69.
So those two are the early pacesetters, but three others have already finished the round under-par. Behind those groups are more familiar names like Sergio Garcia, Keegan Bradley, and Matt Kuchar, who are all in the red early. Sergio rolled in three birdies on the front side to go out in 34, which could have been one better if not for a disappointing bogey at the difficult eighth. The precocious Spaniard then added another red number to start his back nine, pushing to match Sterne's round of 68 and make a big move up the board to get back in it. Bradley also went out in 34, and Kuchar is 1-under through his first five holes.
ESPN's Andy North stated that there's a round of 65 or 66 out there, but he was doubtful that such a score would be available for the leaders in the afternoon. That would maintain the trend from the first two days, where the afternoon flight got the short end of the draw on an increasingly baked out and hardpan Muirfield. But for Tiger, Phil, and Lee Westwood, rolling in a couple birdies early on the front nine, which is doable, may spark a round of 67 or 68.
Here's the top of the leaderboard, along with some the players who made noise this morning:
|1||Miguel A. Jimenez||-3||10:20:00 a.m.|
|T2||Henrik Stenson||-2||10:20:00 a.m.|
|T2||Lee Westwood||-2||10:10:00 a.m.|
|T2||Tiger Woods||-2||10:10:00 a.m.|
|T2||Dustin Johnson||-2||10:00:00 a.m.|
|T6||Martin Laird||-1||10:00:00 a.m.|
|T6||Rafael Cabrera-Bello||-1||9:50:00 a.m.|
|T6||Zach Johnson||-1||9:50:00 a.m.|
|T6||Angel Cabrera||-1||9:40:00 a.m.|
|10||Ryan Moore||E||9:40:00 a.m.|