Pooleys Record Round Gives Him Open Lead
The 50-year-old, competing in his first Senior Open, recorded nine birdies and saved par from 15 feet at the last for his record round.
Pooley leads Walter Hall (72) and Tom Watson (69) by three strokes, at 9-under. Watson hit all but three fairways and three greens in round three, but was plagued by a balky putter he used 31 times.
'I'm going to watch that buttery putting stroke of Don Pooley's tomorrow and see if something can rub off on my putting stroke,' said Watson, who will play in the final twosome Sunday.
Pooley, a two-time PGA Tour winner, joins Johnny Miller (1973 at Oakmont), Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf (1980 at Baltusrol), and Helen Alfredsson (1994 at Indianwood G & CC) as the only players in USGA history to shoot 63 in an Open event.
His 8-under performance also ties the USGA Open record in relation to par. Millers and Alfredssons 63s came on par-71 courses. Orville Moody shot 8-under 64 in the third round of the 1989 U.S. Senior Open at the par-72 Laurel Valley G.C.
I have not won that much in my career and to win a major on the Senior Tour would be huge, Pooley said.
Pooley barely made it into this weeks field. He was one of 116 players battling for five qualifying spots, and birdied the final hole to join a playoff. He then birdied the first extra hole to punch his ticket to the Caves Valley Golf Club outside of Baltimore, Md.
Pooley started the day six strokes back of overnight leader Hall, who extended his advantage with three straight birdies out of the gate Saturday.
Watson stayed in stride with birdies on the first three holes, as well.
Hall made his first mistake of the day by coming up woefully short of the green on the par-5 seventh and making bogey. He dropped another shot at the ninth, and again carded a 6 at the par-5 13th.
After the torrid start, Hall notched only one birdie over his final 15 holes. He made a 3 at the par-4 16th, but gave it right back with a bogeys at 17 and 18.
Pooley, meanwhile, turned in 5-under 31, and birdied the tenth ' his fourth birdie in a row ' to move to 7-under. Playing in his first full season on tour, Pooley missed a two-footer for birdie at 14, but came back with a short putt to tie for the lead at 16. He then rolled home a 20-footer for his ninth birdie of the day at the uphill 464-yard, par-4 17th.
Needing a par to earn a share of the USGA record, he drove into the right fairway bunker at the 455-yard, par-4 18th. He played his second shot short of the green. But with a bunker protecting the flag, Pooley could get his third shot no closer than 15 feet past the hole.
Faced with a hard breaking left-to-righter, he snaked in the save.
Making putts like that on the last green - with all those people watching - was a lot of fun, he said.
Pooley will try and become the first player since Graham Marsh, in 1997, to successfully convert a 54-hole lead into victory at this event.
Ive got a good game plan, and Im going to stick to it ' adjust it if necessary tomorrow. But Im going to stick to the plan as of now, Pooley said.
Full-field scores from the U.S. Senior Open
Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite
Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.
Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.
Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.
Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:
12/1: Dustin Johnson
16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose
20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm
25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods
30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed
40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton
50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick
60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson
80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele
100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen
Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC
If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.
Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.
Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.
There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.
There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.
Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.
John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.
Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.
Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.
Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.
“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”
Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.
“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”
But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.
“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”
Harrington: Fiery Carnoustie evokes Hoylake in '06
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – One course came to mind when Padraig Harrington arrived on property and saw a firm, fast and yellow Carnoustie.
Hoylake in 2006.
That's when Tiger Woods avoided every bunker, bludgeoned the links with mid-irons and captured the last of his three Open titles.
So Harrington was asked: Given the similarity in firmness between Carnoustie and Hoylake, can Tiger stir the ghosts this week?
“I really don’t know,” Harrington said Monday. “He’s good enough to win this championship, no doubt about it. I don’t think he could play golf like the way he did in 2006. Nobody else could have tried to play the golf course the way he did, and nobody else could have played the way he did. I suspect he couldn’t play that way now, either. But I don’t know if that’s the strategy this week, to lay up that far back.”
With three days until the start of this championship, that’s the biggest question mark for Harrington, the 2007 winner here. He doesn’t know what his strategy will be – but his game plan will need to be “fluid.” Do you attack the course with driver and try to fly the fairway bunkers? Or do you attempt to lay back with an iron, even though it’s difficult to control the amount of run-out on the baked-out fairways and bring the bunkers into play?
“The fairways at Hoylake are quite flat, even though they were very fast,” Harrington said. “There’s a lot of undulations in the fairways here, so if you are trying to lay up, you can get hit the back of a slope and kick forward an extra 20 or 30 yards more than you think. So it’s not as easy to eliminate all the risk by laying up.”