On what was a feast of golf, birdies and eagles were pouring in from all across the course.
Overnight leader Cameron Smith started the day with a two-stroke lead over American Cameron Young.
In good scoring conditions, Smith would have hoped to pull further away from the chasing pack but ended up enduring a frustrating day on the greens.
Unable to hole the key putts, Smith saw his grip on the Claret Jug loosen. After a frustrating +1, 73 he will start the fourth round four strokes behind the Europeans at the top of the leaderboard.
Cameron Young has enjoyed a fantastic open. Playing in his first, the rookie has been right up at the top of the leaderboard throughout the entire tournament. Many pundits questioned whether Young could keep up his progress but a sloppy back nine saw him drop some crucial shots and drift back into the chasing pack.
So to the Europeans. Both Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland started the day at -10 and were looking to build on the momentum that they had generated through their opening couple of rounds.
Hovland started like a train netting four successive birdies on the front nine. He kept his emotions in check after such a fast start by not recording a single dropped shot for his entire round.
A stunning drive on the 18th set up an unlikely eagle opportunity that would have given him the outright lead had he holed it. It missed by a whisker but was yet another superb example of his excellent form in and around the greens.
Looking to win his second Open, many wondered whether McIlroy could string together another solid round.
Despite a slow start, a stunning chip-in from the bunker on the ninth hole set McIlroy on his way to a stunning 66.
Over the last few months, McIlroy has been playing some stunning golf and is s recent winner on the PGA Tour. Everything about his game looks in perfect working order and heading into what is bound to be an exciting day of golf, McIlroy will rightly start as the favorite to lift the Claret Jug come Sunday evening.
Looking to spring a surprise are the likes of Dustin Johnson, Scottie Scheffler, Tommy Fleetwood, Matt Fitzpatrick and Adam Scott. All lie within seven strokes of the lead but will need some serious luck to fall their way if they are to reel McIlroy in.
|Si Woo Kim||+4000|
The betting would suggest that this is a two-horse race.
McIlroy -130 will start the day as the favorite over Hovland +150 and it’s easy to see why.
The Northern Irishman has the better major experience, is the better links player, has more experience on the course and heads into this final round in better all-round form.
Hovland also won’t be battling just McIlroy, but will also be up against the crowd.
Where Hovland will face his biggest test is in his short game. The Norwegian has conceded that he isn’t the most confident of chippers. On a course that relies on excellent short game skill, you wonder if McIlroy’s superior touch and feel could end up being the ultimate difference between winning and losing.
Despite giving up a three-stroke lead, Cameron Smith gave himself plenty of birdie looks throughout round 3, and if the putter can get hot Smith can certainly get on a birdie roll. When on song, Smith is the best putter on Tour, and odds of +1000 could be worth considering.
Another man who will be hoping for a better putting performance is Scottie Scheffler. Scheffler has proven countless times this season that he can shoot low. Although he will start the day five strokes behind, the world number one will be supremely confident he can win his second major of the year. Odds of +1800 look like the value bet of the round.