South African Louis Oosthuizen held his nerve to lead the British Open by one shot after a gripping third round played out in bright sunshine at Royal St George’s.
Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, had moved serenely to 13 under par with a birdie at the ninth hole before two bogeys, his second and third of the tournament, halted his progress.
Americans Jordan Spieth and Collin Morikawa joined him in a three-way tie for the lead but Oosthuizen then sank a 10-foot birdie putt at the par-three 16th to move back to the top of the leaderboard and carded a 69 to finish at 12 under.
Oosthuizen, 38, has finished second in six major championships since his triumph at St Andrews 11 years ago.
Morikawa, who won last year’s PGA Championship at the age of 23, emerged as Oosthuizen’s closest challenger, recovering from a poor start to collect four birdies and sign for a 68 that left him on 11 under.
Spieth, bidding to lift the Claret Jug for the second time, racked up four early birdies and another one at the 10th took him to 12 under.
The 27-year-old’s putter went cold on the back nine, however, a dropped shot at the 11th halting his momentum before he bogeyed the last two holes in a round of 69 to finish at nine under.
Canadian Corey Conners put together a sparkling 66 to get to eight under alongside American Scottie Scheffler, one ahead of Spain’s Jon Rahm, Canadian Mackenzie Hughes and South African Dylan Frittelli.
When does it start?
The first round began on Thursday 15 July and the final round is on Sunday 18 July.
What TV channel is it on?
Sky Sports Golf and Sky Sports Main Event now have exclusive live coverage of The Open. Coverage begins on Saturday at 9am and lasts until 8pm. Alternatively, you can bookmark this page and return to follow all the action on our dedicated live blog.
What do we know about Royal St George’s?
A classical links on England’s south east coast, St George’s most distinctive feature is the rolling undulations of the fairways, which can kick a seemingly good drive into trouble. It also features a number of blind shots, in contrast to venues such as Royal Birkdale which are very much all in front of the player.
James Bond author Ian Fleming was one of the club’s famous members.
The course will measure 7,189 yards and play as a par 70 for the tournament.
What is the weather forecast?
The last few weeks have seen plenty of rain leaving the course looking quite lush and green by the standards of summer.
The weather is due to be glorious on both Saturday and Sunday as a heat wave crashes over southern England. Temperatures will reach 22 degrees on Saturday before soaring to 26 degrees on Sunday.
What is the latest with withdrawals?
The field took two hits before proceedings began as Masters champions Hideki Matsuyama and Bubba Watson withdrew.
Matsuyama, who tested positive for COVID-19 after the first round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic on July 2, won’t travel due to United Kingdom health protocols.
The reigning Masters champ has remained quarantined since and hasn’t shown symptoms, but continues to test positive on PCR tests.
“I’m feeling fine but haven’t been able to practice in preparation for The Open,” said Matsuyama in a statement. “Combining that with the difficult travel to the UK, my team and I have decided it’s best to withdraw to ensure everyone’s safety.”
Matsuyama will focus on the Tokyo Olympics, which begins its golf competition on July 29.
Watson, a two-time Masters winner, withdrew after having direct contact with someone who tested positive.
“While I am vaccinated and have passed the required pre-travel Covid test, not enough time has passed for me to comfortably join the charter flight and risk exposure to the other players and personnel on board,” explained Watson.
They’ll be replaced in the field with Americans Harold Varner III and Brendan Steele. Two more Americans, John Catlin and Adam Long, are now the first and second alternates.
What are our writers saying?
Even after an abject mea culpa, Bryson DeChambeau found there was still no pleasing some people. Never mind that he had worn full sackcloth and ashes for berating the deficiencies of his Cobra driver, helpfully clarifying that “I sucked today, not my equipment”, the merry patrons at a sun-bleached Sandwich still struggled to embrace him. When, on the 10th tee, he reached for his hybrid, rather than the 46-inch blunderbuss that they had come to watch him blast 400 yards into knee-high fescue, some audibly groaned. “Come on guys,” he replied, wondering what, in his PR efforts as much as in his long game, he needed to do to catch a break.
All told, they were letting him off lightly. When he had choked down to a four-iron for his opening drive, they welcomed him with a welter of ironic boos. There was a pantomime element to this, but DeChambeau’s treatment did illustrate the British public’s struggles to reconcile the two Brysons in their minds. Did they support a golfing Hercules, capable of inflicting greater savagery with his 200mph ball speed that mere mortals could only imagine? Or did they mutter disapproval at an often petulant man-child, who once castigated a cameraman for failing to protect his brand?
Who are the leading contenders?
Jon Rahm: Won the US Open in style at Torrey Pines last month, is the world’s in form player and has a solid links record. Was in good position at Royal Portrush two years ago but faded with a final round 75 to finish T11 but does have two Irish Open wins on his CV at seaside courses. Ended the first round one over par but fought back brilliantly in round two to reach six under heading into the weekend.
Louis Oosthuizen: Finished second at the US Open and USPGA this season and is becoming a major specialist. Won his Open at St Andrews in 2010 but perhaps does not convert as many opportunities as he should. Enters the weekend with a two shot lead at 11 under, a record for the halfway stage in Open history.
Jordan Spieth: Produced a memorable run of birdies to win this at Royal Birkdale in 2017 and has been much improved in 2021, finishing third at the Masters but failing to contend at the USPGA and US Open. Has turned in two excellent rounds with some controlled play and currently sits third at eight under.
Brooks Koepka: After an injury ravaged year there have been signs of Koepka getting back to top form at the majors with consecutive top five finishes at Kiawah Island and Torrey Pines. T4 and T6 finishes at The Open in 2019 and 2017 with Northern Irishman Ricky Elliott on the bag. Clearly relishing in rival Bryson DeChambeau’s misfortune, he’s some way off the lead at 5 under but is not to be written off.
Dustin Johnson: Contended here in 2011 before spraying his second to the treacherous par five 14th out of bounds. Johnson’s class is undoubted but it has been a poor year with no top 10 since February. The world no.1 is right in the hunt at seven under heading into the weekend after a strong round of 65 on Friday.
Collin Morikawa: Competing in just his second ever links event and is making his debut at The Open. The American has produced two sparkling rounds of golf so far, including a fantastic 64 in round two, meaning he is the closest man to Oosthuizen heading into the weekend.
Andy Sullivan: The leading Brit who is seeking to bring The Open crown back to England for the first time since Sir Nick Faldo in 1992. The man from Nuneaton is six under after two very consistent rounds of 67 apiece on Thursday and Friday.
What are the tee times?
08:00 Kevin Kisner (USA)
08:10 Richard Mansell, Poom Saksansin (Tha)
08:20 Sam Burns (USA), Rickie Fowler (USA)
08:30 Yuxin Lin (Chn), Brendan Steele (USA)
08:40 Jazz Janewattananond (Tha), Chan Kim (USA)
08:50 Richard Bland, Padraig Harrington
09:00 Ryosuke Kinoshita (Jpn), J. C. Ritchie (Rsa)
09:10 Bryson DeChambeau (USA), Chez Reavie (USA)
09:20 Billy Horschel (USA), Adam Scott (Aus)
09:30 Joaquin Niemann (Chi), Xander Schauffele (USA)
09:45 Harris English (USA), Jonathan Thomson
09:55 Abraham Ancer (Mex), Benjamin Hebert (Fra)
10:05 Marcus Armitage, Bernd Wiesberger (Aut)
10:15 Byeong-Hun An (Kor), Sergio Garcia (Spa)
10:25 Johannes Veerman (USA), Jack Senior
10:35 Matthias Schmid (Ger), Lee Westwood
10:45 Max Homa (USA), Justin Thomas (USA)
10:55 Christiaan Bezuidenhout (Rsa), Ian Poulter
11:05 Rory McIlroy, Sam Horsfield
11:15 Tony Finau (USA), Daniel van Tonder (Rsa)
11:30 Dean Burmester (Rsa), Brandt Snedeker (USA)
11:40 Tommy Fleetwood, Viktor Hovland (Nor)
11:50 Talor Gooch (USA), Antoine Rozner (Fra)
12:00 Ryan Fox (Nzl), Brooks Koepka (USA)
12:10 Brian Harman (USA), Justin Rose
12:20 Aaron Rai, Matt Wallace
12:30 Matthew Fitzpatrick, Lanto Griffin (USA)
12:40 Emiliano Grillo (Arg), Dustin Johnson (USA)
12:50 Cameron Tringale (USA), Danny Willett
13:00 Joel Dahmen (USA), Jason Kokrak (USA)
13:15 Robert MacIntyre, Andy Sullivan
13:25 Paul Casey, Shane Lowry
13:35 Daniel Berger (USA), Webb Simpson (USA)
13:45 Kevin Streelman (USA), Marcel Siem (Ger)
13:55 Justin Harding (Rsa), Cameron Smith (Aus)
14:05 Mackenzie Hughes (Can), Dylan Frittelli (Rsa)
14:15 Jon Rahm (Spa), Scottie Scheffler (USA)
14:25 Corey Conners (Can), Jordan Spieth (USA)
14:35 Collin Morikawa (USA), Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa)