Els Positioned for $2 Million Payday
Ireland's Padraig Harrington fired an 11-under 61 on Saturday to jump into third at minus 13.
Els began the day with a one-shot lead over Lee Westwood but the South African quickly expanded the margin. He parred the first four holes but birdied the par-4 5th which turned out to be the first of six consecutive birdies. Els chipped in for birdie at the par-3 7th and nearly holed an eagle putt at 10 before tapping in for birdie.
The defending champion birdied the par-5 14th for the third straight day but ran into the only trouble of the round at the closing hole of The Gary Player Country Club. Els played his approach into a greenside bunker and blasted out to 25 feet. He missed the putt for his lone blemish of the round and a three-shot lead as he attempts to win an unprecedented third straight title in Sun City.
'I got off to a slow start. It seemed like everyone started better than me,' said Els. 'But then I just started making birdies.'
Els was embroiled in controversy before the round as a former caddie filed a lawsuit against the two-time U.S. Open champion, claiming he is owed back wages for Els' two victories in this event.
'Of course I've known about it (the lawsuit),' said Els. 'But I take care of stuff on the course and only worry about that. I'm not going to say any more because it'll get blown out of proportion so I'll rather say nothing.'
Harrington's 61 was an unofficial course record because of preferred lies on Saturday. He carded 12 birdies to only one bogey and saved par at the 9th even though his approach found water.
'After the 62 I made in the pro-am, there were a lot of expectations on me,' said Harrington, a two-time European Ryder Cupper. 'But I was more relaxed today. I was in a very aggressive frame of mind. I kept going for the flags, hitting it pin high and holing putts. I played well, but you have to have things go for you when you shoot 61.'
Westwood posted a 2-under 70 and is tied for fourth with Canadian Mike Weir. The duo stands five shots out at 12-under-par.
Sergio Garcia is the only other player in striking distance in sixth place. The young Spaniard is at 11-under after a third-round 66.
Colin Montgomerie and Nick Price share seventh at 7-under-par while reigning U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen is a shot further at minus 6.
Thomas Bjorn is in 10th at 5-under while Darren Clarke is in last at 1-over-par.
Jim Furyk was disqualified before the round started for signing an incorrect scorecard after Thursday's opening round. He misinterpreted the ruling on preferred lies.
'It was my responsibility to read the rule sheet clearly,' Furyk said. 'The paragraph relating to this rule was worded in the same way as the US Tour rule - except the last sentence.'
Watch: All of Tiger's Rd. 3 birdies at The Open
Tiger Woods started the third round of The Open at even par, having made seven birdies and seven bogeys over the first 36 holes at Carnoustie.
Following three pars to start on Saturday, Woods went on a birdie binge.
No. 1 came with this putt at the par-4 fourth.
No. 2 with this two-putt at the par-5 sixth.
No. 3 thanks to this 30-footer at the par-4 ninth.
No. 4 after nearly jarring his approach shot on the par-4 10th.
No. 5 when he almost drove the green at the par-4 11th and two-putted, from just off the green, from 95 feet.
And No. 6, which gave him a share of the lead, came courtesy another two-putt at the par-5 14th.
Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship
Tiger Woods, in search of his 15th career major championship title, started the weekend six off the lead at Carnoustie. We're tracking him in Round 3 of The Open.
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Rose's Saturday 64 matches Carnoustie Open record
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Justin Rose needed to sink a 14-foot putt on the final hole Friday just to make the cut on the number at The Open.
Freewheeling when he came to the course Saturday, Rose tied the lowest score ever recorded in an Open at Carnoustie.
Entering the weekend nine shots off the lead, the world No. 3 carded a bogey-free, 7-under 64 to at least make things interesting. It won’t be known for several hours how many shots Rose will be behind, but his back-nine 30 gives him an opportunity, if the wind blows 25 mph Sunday as forecast, to challenge the leaders.
After all, Paul Lawrie was 10 shots back entering the final round here in 1999.
“I think the birdie on 18 last night freed me up, and I’m just very happy to be out on this golf course and not down the road somewhere else this morning,” said Rose, who is at 4-under 209. “So that might have been part of the shift in mindset today. I had nothing to lose from that point of view.”
Rose’s 64 matched Steve Stricker and Richard Green’s record score at Carnoustie (2007).
It also was Rose’s career-low round in a major.
Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage
NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:
Saturday, Day 3 (Times ET)
Friday, Day 2 (Times ET)
8:20AM-3PM (Watch): As the skies cleared on Friday afternoon, defending champion Jordan Spieth made a run to try and regain the claret jug. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose and Kiradech Aphibarnrat.
1:30-8:20AM (Watch): On a rainy Friday morning at Carnoustie, Rory McIlroy shot 69 to reach 4 under, while Zach Johnson fired a 67 for the early lead. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Brooks Koepka, Ian Poulter and Cameron Smith.
Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)
Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.
1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.