Westwood leads Woods, Mahan by two at Muirfield


On another cloudless day in Scotland where the links at Muirfield remained firm and fast, Lee Westwood grabbed the lead thanks to a series of clutch putts. Here's how things shape up heading into the final round of the 142nd Open Championship:

Leaderboard: Lee Westwood (-3), Tiger Woods (-1), Hunter Mahan (-1), Adam Scott (Even), Henrik Stenson (+1), Ryan Moore (+1), Angel Cabrera (+1), Zach Johnson (+1)

What it means: Spurred by an eagle at the par-5 fifth hole, Westwood climbed to the top of the leaderboard and held at least a share of the lead for much of the afternoon. He now holds sole possession of the lead after 54 holes at a major for just the second time in his career, though, Woods lurks in second place, as he looks for the 15th major title of his career.

Round of the day: A month after playing in the final group Sunday at Merion, Mahan surged to the first page of the leaderboard thanks to a 3-under 68. Beginning with birdies on each of the first two holes, Mahan added red figures on Nos. 9, 15 and 17 en route to tying the low round of the day at Muirfield. As a result, he’ll again be in the final pairing, just as he was at the U.S. Open.

Best of the rest: Finishing his round as the leaders began theirs, Sergio Garcia was able to match Mahan and Richard Sterne by carding a 68 Saturday. After four total birdies across the first 36 holes, the Spaniard made six birdies during his third round, including a rare birdie at the home hole to conclude his round. After it looked like he was headed for an early exit Friday, Garcia now sits at 3-over 216 after three rounds and will begin Sunday six shots behind Westwood.

Biggest disappointment: Beginning the day one shot off the lead, Dustin Johnson stumbled out of the gates, playing the first eight holes in 5 over. Though he bounced back with a trio of birdies, Johnson ultimately carded a 5-over 76 to drop out of the top 10. While he remains in position for what would be his fourth straight top-15 finish in this event, he will now need a superb round Sunday to have any hope of contending for the claret jug.

Main storyline heading into Sunday: Arguably the best player without a major title to his credit, Westwood will begin the final round with all eyes firmly fixed upon him. Though he starts the final round equipped with a two-shot advantage, the margin is tenuous at best on a course where double bogey looms around the corner. Should he maintain the prowess on the greens he has shown through three rounds, Westwood could follow in the footsteps of countryman Justin Rose by nabbing an elusive major title this summer.

Shot of the day: Appearing to be in significant trouble for the first time all day, Westwood faced a lengthy putt for bogey on the par-3 16th. He holed the 15-footer, saving bogey while Woods was unable to convert a birdie putt of similar length. What appeared as a possible three-shot swing was only one-shot, and was immediately countered a hole later when Westwood birdied while Woods bogeyed.

Quote of the day: “I think it's all an advantage. The more often you can put yourself in contention, the better. I don't think there's any downside or negativity to getting into contention in major championships.' – Westwood, assessing his recent record in majors that includes seven top-three finishes since 2008.