Lee Westwood and Tiger Woods were among many players in the hunt heading into Saturday's third round in The Open Championship at Muirfield. Not surprisingly, they finished the day at the top of the leaderboard, as Westwood is in first at three-under par and Woods is in a tie for second at one-under par:
Miguel Angel Jimenez began the day with a one-shot lead over Woods, Westwood and a host of others, but he shot a miserable six-over par on the day, so he likely played his way out of contention. Woods and Westwood went shot for shot most of the day as they traded the lead, but it was Westwood who persevered and made big putts down the stretch.
Woods clearly had some issues at times as he shot one over on the day. Woods admitted that the golf course was difficult, and said that he needs to make some adjustments on Sunday.
Here is how the leaderboard looks entering Sunday's fourth round, as well as a recap of Saturday's action.
Leaderboard After Round 3
Day 3 Recap
Muirfield hasn't exactly been an easy course to conquer thus far, but the conditions proved to be especially difficult on moving day. Many of the players who started the day near the top of the leaderboard fell back a few strokes, so any golfer that managed to shoot under par or even barely over had an excellent day overall.
Aside from Woods and Westwood, Hunter Mahan and Masters champion Adam Scott made a move in the third round. Mahan tied for the best round of the day at three under, which puts him in third with an overall score of one-under par. Scott shot just one under for the day, but he is a shot behind Mahan in fourth, and appears to be a true threat heading into Sunday.
With that said, golf fans were surely locked in on the Woods and Westwood pairing all day long as they dueled for control of the lead. After Woods bogeyed the fourth hole, Westwood made an absolutely huge putt from the fairway for eagle on the fifth, as captured by CBS Sports.
With that three-shot swing, the English star appeared to have a firm grasp on the top spot. After bogeys on the eighth and ninth, though, Westwood fell behind. Tiger drained a birdie putt on the ninth and once again was able to overtake the leaderboard.
Westwood regained the lead with a birdie on the 14th, but he eventually gave that stroke back on the 16th. Westwood's shot found the high grass, and he was essentially in an impossible predicament. He did the best he could to get it out, but it ended up rolling back down the hill, and actually went backward.
It could have been a nightmarish hole for Westwood, but after Woods narrowly missed a lengthy birdie putt, Westwood nailed a long bogey putt of his own. Bogey is rarely viewed as a good result, but Westwood was clearly energized by the make, as he was able to salvage a tie atop the leaderboard.
That momentum carried over to the par-five 17th, as Westwood bounced back with a birdie. After a perfect tee shot, Woods hit his second shot into a fairway bunker. He couldn't do much with his third shot and he ultimately ended up bogeying the hole, which resulted in a two-shot swing in Westwood's favor:
Woods and Westwood both managed pars on the final hole of the day, so Woods will have to do something that he has never done before in order to break his five-year majors drought. That, of course, is coming from behind on Sunday to win a major. Woods has won 14 of them in his career, but all of them came with the outright lead or a share of it heading into the fourth round.
While Woods is hoping to win his 15th major, Westwood will be going for his first. He has long been viewed as one of the best players to never win a major, and has registered a top-three finish in each of them four major tournaments. He showed the heart of a champion on Saturday, and he'll be in great shape if he repeats that on Sunday.
Some other players who are in contention ahead of the final round are Henrik Stenson (+1), Angel Cabrera (+1), Ryan Moore (+1), Zach Johnson (+1), Phil Mickelson (+2) and Francesco Molinari (+2). All of them shot over par on Saturday, so they'll need some help in order to vie for the Claret Jug.
Westwood will be playing in the final group with Mahan, while Woods and Scott will be in the second-to-last group. Muirfield has been pretty unpredictable thus far, but the odds are in favor of the winner coming from one of those groups.
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