McIlroy six clear, one round away from major No. 3

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2014, 5:01 pm

HOYLAKE, England – A historic Saturday at the Open Championship – the byproduct of a surprising, perhaps even questionable, break with 143 years of tradition by the R&A – quickly gave way to what seems destined to be another final-round formality for Rory McIlroy.

If his first two major victories, boat-race affairs that he won by a combined 16 strokes, were coronations, it will take a collapse to make Sunday anything more compelling than a stroll.

In less time than it took the English meteorologist to rectify the Day 3 forecast at Hoylake, which prompted officials to use a two-tee start for the first time in the championship’s long history, the Northern Irishman went from being tied for the lead alongside a charging Rickie Fowler to six strokes clear.

Things don’t swing that fast in Las Vegas.

Whatever glimmer of hope Fowler & Co. enjoyed on a gloomy afternoon along the Dee Estuary was quickly washed away with two eagles over McIlroy’s final three holes for a third-round 68.

Officials don’t start engraving the claret jug on Saturdays, but they could be safe to start with an “R” considering that the 143rd Open appears destined to be a two-man race, and that’s only if McIroy cooperates.

Rory v. Rickie, Rickie v. Rory – as enticing as a bona fide clash of 20-somethings on the game’s grandest stage may sound, it may be wishful thinking after McIlroy slipped on the red cape on his closing turn.

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But that didn’t stop Fowler from saying the right things.

“If I can go out and learn from what I did there at the U.S. Open and try and get off to a bit of a better start, maybe I'm able to put a bit of pressure on Rory, and maybe we can get into a fun little match come the back nine,” said Fowler, who also set out on Sunday at last month’s U.S. Open in the final two-ball some five strokes behind Martin Kaymer.

Fowler’s fortunes seemed much brighter just an hour earlier, when he tied McIlroy through 12 holes at 12 under before playing his last six holes in 2 over par for a third-round 68 and 10-under total.

It also didn’t help that McIlroy’s killer instincts kicked in.

From 252 yards McIlroy drilled a 4-iron to 25 feet at the par-5 16th hole and rolled in the eagle putt. Two holes later he hoisted a 5-iron into the grey skies from 239 yards to 10 feet to ignite the partisan crowds with another eagle.

In pure Darwinian terms this is simple for McIlroy, “Six shots is better than five, seven is better than six, eight is better than seven,” he said.

Or, put another way, no player has ever given up more than a five-stroke lead at the Open Championship and McIlroy – who has now completed the 54-hole Grand Slam, having led through three rounds at all four majors – has proven himself adept at playing from the front. He converted an eight-shot lead to win the 2011 U.S. Open and a three-stroke advantage at the 2012 PGA Championship.

“I’m very confident and it helps that I’ve been in this position before,” an understated McIlroy explained.

But then he’s also been on the other side of that fine Sunday line. McIlroy was four clear through 54 holes at the 2011 Masters and officials at Augusta National are still looking for the ball he airmailed into the cabins left of the 10th fairway on his way to a closing 80.

“Anything can happen on a links golf course,” reasoned Tom Watson.

And Old Tom would know. Watson endured a late heartbreak in 2009 at Turnberry, but for that to happen on Sunday McIlroy will have to be in a giving mood.

It also helps that Fowler enjoys a surprising advantage in head-to-head duels with the McIlroy.

At the 2007 Walker Cup at Royal Country Down in Northern Ireland, Fowler beat McIlroy in a Sunday four-ball match and in 2010 the American was named the Tour’s Rookie of the Year over McIlroy in a curious vote considering the tandem’s record in 2010.

Two years later Fowler clipped McIlroy again at the Wells Fargo Championship, closing with a 69 and beating the Ulsterman in a playoff.

There’s also no shortage of would-be challengers aligned behind McIlroy. Sergio Garcia (9 under), who bogeyed the 17th hole on Day 3 to slip out of second place, will again try to end his major drought, as will Dustin Johnson, whose title hopes were likely derailed by three consecutive bogeys before the turn on Saturday.

Even Victor Dubuisson, the first Frenchman since Jean Van de Velde famously waded into the burn at the 1999 championship, joined the pool party thanks to a third-round 68 to move to 8 under.

All those wishful scenarios, however, seem destined to take a back seat on Sunday at Royal Pooling Water when McIlroy sets out in pursuit of the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

“If everything goes the right way tomorrow to get three-quarters of the way there is some achievement by the age of 25,” McIlroy allowed. “I'd be in pretty illustrious company. So not getting ahead of ourselves, here, but yeah, it would mean an awful lot.”

No, it would be historic.

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Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 7:54 pm

Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.

So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.

Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.

Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Jordan Spieth: 7/4

Xander Schauffele: 5/1

Kevin Kisner: 11/2

Tiger Woods: 14/1

Francesco Molinari: 14/1

Rory McIlroy: 14/1

Kevin Chappell: 20/1

Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1

Alex Noren: 25/1

Zach Johnson: 30/1

Justin Rose: 30/1

Matt Kuchar: 40/1

Webb Simpson: 50/1

Adam Scott: 80/1

Tony Finau: 80/1

Charley Hoffman: 100/1

Austin Cook: 100/1

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Wandering photographer costs McIlroy on 16

By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 7:44 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy bogeyed two of his last four holes Saturday to fall four shots off the lead at The Open.

One of those mistakes might not have entirely been his fault.

McIlroy missed a short putt on the par-3 16th after a photographer was “in a world all his own,” wandering around near the green, taking photos of the crowd and not paying attention to the action on the green.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“It’s fine,” McIlroy said after a third-round 70 put him at 5-under 208, four shots off the lead. “It’s one of those things that happens. There’s a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It’s probably my fault, but I just didn’t regroup well after it happened.”

McIlroy also bogeyed the home hole, after driving into a fairway bunker, sending his second shot right of the green and failing to get up and down.

“I putted well,” he said. “I holed out when I needed to. I just need to make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow.”

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Kisner not expecting awkward night with Spieth

By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 7:33 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It might get awkward in that star-studded rental house Saturday night.

Two of the three Open co-leaders, Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner, are sharing a house this week near Carnoustie. Though it’ll be late by the time they both get back to the house Saturday night, they’ll have plenty of time to kill Sunday morning, with their tee times not until nearly 3 p.m. local time.

“Everybody is probably going to get treatment and eating and trying to find a bed,” Kisner said. “I’m sure there’ll be some conversations. There always are. Everybody has a few horror stories or good laughs over something that happened out there. That will probably be the end of it.”

One thing they’re almost certain to discuss is the weather.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

After three days of mostly benign conditions, Sunday’s forecast calls for warm temperatures and wind gusts up to 25 mph.

“When you watch any TV, that’s all they talk about – how Sunday’s coming,” Kisner said. “It’s going to be a true test, and we’ll get to see really who’s hitting it the best and playing the best.”

Zach Johnson is also in the house – along with Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas, Jimmy Walker and Jason Dufner – and he rode to the course Saturday with Kisner, with whom he played in the final group, at 4 p.m. It’s unclear whether the co-leaders Sunday will have a similar arrangement.

This is the third year that Spieth and Co. have shared a house at The Open, though Kisner is a new addition to the group.

“It’s the end of the week,” Kisner said. “Everybody’s got a lot of stuff going on. Everybody’s going their separate ways tomorrow. Tomorrow morning we’ll all sit around and laugh on the couch and talk about why that guy’s making so many birdies.”

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Final-round tee times for the 147th Open Championship

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 7:26 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jordan Spieth begins his quest for a second consecutive claret jug and fourth major overall at 9:45 a.m. ET Sunday at Carnoustie, playing alongside Xander Schauffele. This marks the first time Schauffele has ever held a 54-hole lead in his career.

The Kevins – Kisner and Chappell – are in the penultimate group, 10 minutes earlier at 9:35 a.m. Kisner is tied with Spieth and Schauffele at 9 under par. Chappell is two shots back at 7 under.

But it’s the next group that has people interested the most. Tiger Woods is paired with Francesco Molinari at 9:25 a.m. Woods, in search of his 15th major championship and first in 10 years, shot a third-round 66 to vault into a tie for sixth place, four shots behind the lead. He began the day six shots behind. Molinari has two wins and two second-place finishes in his last four events.

Rory McIlroy was within striking distance of the lead but bogeyed two of the last three holes to drop into a sixth-place tie. He is paired with 2017 Open runner-up Matt Kuchar at 9:05 a.m.

3:00AM ET: Beau Hossler

3:10AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Rafa Cabrera Bello

3:20AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Si-Woo Kim

3:30AM ET: Luke List, Keegan Bradley

3:40AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

3:50AM ET: Tyrrell Hatton, Paul Dunne

4:00AM ET: Cameron Davis, Brooks Koepka

4:10AM ET: Brett Rumford, Kevin Na

4:20AM ET: Henrik Stenson, Paul Casey

4:30AM ET: Gavin Green, Ryan Fox

4:45AM ET: Shubhankar Sharma, Gary Woodland

4:55AM ET: Sam Locke (a), Masahiro Kawamura

5:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Rhys Enoch

5:15AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Jason Day

5:25AM ET: Adam Hadwin, Yuta Ikeda

5:35AM ET: Sung Kang, Brandon Stone

5:45AM ET: Thomas Pieters, Stewart Cink

5:55AM ET: Lee Westwood, Julian Suri

6:05AM ET: Tom Lewis, Marc Leishman

6:15AM ET: Ross Fisher, Jason Dufner

6:30AM ET: Rickie Fowler, Patrick Reed

6:40AM ET: Phil Mickelson, Eddie Pepperell

6:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Bernhard Langer

7:00AM ET: Michael Kim, Patrick Cantlay

7:10AM ET: Shaun Norris, Lucas Herbert

7:20AM ET: Sean Crocker, Louis Oosthuizen

7:30AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Satoshi Kodaira

7:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Danny Willett

7:50AM ET: Haotong Li, Kyle Stanley

8:00AM ET: Chris Wood, Byeong Hun An

8:15AM ET: Erik Van Rooyen, Yusaku Miyazato

8:25AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

8:35AM ET: Adam Scott, Charley Hoffman

8:45AM ET: Justin Rose, Austin Cook

8:55AM ET: Tommy Fleetwood, Zach Johnson

9:05AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Rory McIlroy

9:15AM ET: Webb Simpson, Alex Noren

9:25AM ET: Francesco Molinari, Tiger Woods

9:35AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Kevin Chappell

9:45AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Xander Schauffele