SOUTHPORT, England -- David Duval finally put together two good rounds to get into contention at the British Open, raising the idea that he was close to breaking out of a mystifying slump.
Then came a triple bogey on the first hole at Royal Birkdale, and an 83 on his card to match his highest score in this major. Yet none of that changed his outlook.
I dont walk away from todays round any less confident than yesterdays round, Duval said. If anything, I gained confidence with how I struck the ball and maintained my rhythm. You need good bounces on a day like this to have a good score. I just got behind it and couldnt get any nice things to happen.
Starting the third round only three shots out of the lead, Duvals approach ballooned into the 40 mph gusts and wound up 30 yards to the right of the green in hay so deep he took a one-shot penalty for relief, even though his drop wasnt in grass much shorter. He pounded that one over the green into another nasty lie, chipped out effectively to 25 feet and made triple bogey.
It didnt demoralize me, Duval said. I figured thats three bogeys everybody is going to make.
He didnt make a par until the fifth hole, and didnt make a birdie all day. But he wasnt alone. Duval had one of nine rounds in the 80s.
Its about as hard as Ive ever played in, Duval said. I dont know how you can describe it. You have to be out there trying to hit a shot to appreciate it. How do you judge on one hole if a 2-iron is going to go 160 yards, and on the next hole a 5-iron is going to go 230 yards? Theres a lot of guessing out there.
He played with defending champion Padraig Harrington, who shot 72 to get into the final group.
I knew everybody would find it tough, Harrington said. David played with me and didnt really play too badly, and you could see his score. You could see that if things got away from you and you didnt get the right breaks, it was going to be a difficult day.
It took about five hours to play the third round, thanks to two delays on the 10th hole from wind so strong the ball wouldnt stop moving.
The 10th green is among the most exposed at Royal Birkdale, and Anthony Kim was the first victim.
After replacing his ball, he noticed it moved a foot backward, then about 8 feet back, then a long way back. He had to remark it again, leaving himself a much longer birdie putt.
I waited and wondered if they were going to call play, Kim said, alluding to a delay on the green that took more than 30 minutes, such a long time that it felt like we played two rounds.
Even more bizarre was what happened to Fredrik Jacobson.
His ball was in the bunker on No. 10, and when he got ready to step into the sand, he noticed the ball moving.
The ball was rolling five times in the sand before I walked down in the bunker, Jacobson said. I was scared of getting a penalty shot if I walked down, because if it counted as addressing the ball and the ball moved I could have been standing in that bunker still trying to replace that ball.
Jacobson checked with a rules official, and the discussion caused a huge backup behind them. By the time Greg Norman and K.J. Choi got to the 10th tee, they had to wait 30 minutes.
I would have refused to play if I was penalized, Jacobson said. So they made an exception.
Stephen Ames was playing with Jacobson, and he had to wait while finishing off his triple bogey. As usual, Ames held nothing back about how it was handled.
They had to assess whether it was a penalty or not, Ames said. The guys didnt know the rules.
Because of the forecast for strong wind, officials moved up the tee markers on the sixth, 11th and 16th holes, the latter two being the most significant. The 11th hole was shortened by 78 yards to play at about 360, while the 16th was moved 68 yards to the members tee. But it also changed the angle of attack.
Actually, it was a harder tee ball on No. 11 with those tees, Heath Slocum said. You had three bunkers to negotiate. We didnt worry about them the first two days.
With the 11th tee moved far to the left, Davis Love III got there and couldnt figure out where to go or what to hit.
It was weird, he said. If you saw us up there, we couldnt even figure out what tee we were on. Once you figured out what tee you were on, you did the math, and there was nowhere to hit it.
He chose a 2-iron to stay short of the bunkers, went right into the rough and made his only bogey of the round.
Paul Casey flared his second shot on the par-5 15th well to right, near a cluster of gorse bushes and into deep grass. Marshals already were searching for the ball when Casey joined them, and then came a mild surprise.
I looked over and HRH was right there with them, he said.
That would be His Royal Highness'Prince Andrew'who had been watching him play and decided to help look. He mentioned to Casey that he also had hit his shot in the same area when playing Royal Birkdale last week.
I said, Did you find it? And he said, Didnt bother looking, Casey said.
Casey never found his ball, had to return to the fairway and made a double bogey in his round of 73.
WESTWOOD IN A FISHBOWL
Lee Westwood had high hopes going into the British Open, which might have made it more difficult.
The Englishman finished third at the U.S. Open, his highest finish in a major, missing out on the playoff at Torrey Pines by one shot. He was among the favorites at Royal Birkdale, especially since it had been nearly 40 years since an Englishman had won a British Open in England. Alas, he struggled from the start and shot 78 on Saturday to finish three rounds at 17-over 227.
At the U.S. Open, I had no expectations, Westwood said. This week, it was just not possible. Look at this. Ive just shot 78 and theres 20 people wanting to talk to me. Theres just so much going on, especially with an English player.
Health Slocum flew to England as the first alternate and wasnt sure if he would be able to play in his first British Open until, thankfully, he got in Thursday morning.
He arrived in time for relentless wind and rain, and it shows on his scorecard with rounds of 73-76-74.
Any regrets? None at all.
I dont remember a day when it was warm and sunny watching on TV, Slocum said. Its a challenge.
Thats not to suggest Slocum would have been disappointed had it been warm and dry, as it was at Hoylake, St. Andrews, Royal Troon and Royal St. Georges in recent years.
It would not have been what I expected, he said.
Even with the tees moved forward, the par-4 sixth hole was the hardest at Royal Birkdale with a stroke average of just under 4.8. There was only one birdie in the third round, that belonging to Tom Lehman.
Do I get a skin? he asked after his 73.
Turns out it was a fairly routine birdie'hit the fairway, hit the green, make a putt.
I hit a good drive, then smashed a 3-wood and holed about a 60-foot putt, Lehman said.
British Open prize money of 4.2 million pounds will be converted at 1.9985 based on the exchange rate published by the Federal Reserve at noon Friday.
American translation: The purse is $8,393,700, with first place at just over $1.5 million. That means if a U.S. player wins, he will get 3,020 points toward the Ryder Cup.