Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland will be locked in a duel at the British Open for a second straight day.
The only difference between Saturday and Sunday's trips up and down the Old Course at St. Andrews is the two players reside in the final pairing instead of the penultimate group.
McIlroy and Hovland shot dueling 66s on Saturday to leapfrog Cameron Smith and Cameron Young on the leaderboard. The two leaders sit at 16 under with a four-shot lead over Smith and Young.
The Northern Irishman and Norwegian have the best chances to win the Claret Jug based on history. No player has won The Open Championship at St. Andrews from four or more shots back going into Sunday.
History suggests Sunday's winner will be either McIlroy or Hovland, but that does not mean they will be the only golfers to turn in marvelous performances.
Scottie Scheffler, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Matt Fitzpatrick and Adam Scott are among the previous major winners that sit in the top 12 and could make some noise on the Old Course to finish inside the top five before the championship showdown begins between McIlroy and Hovland.
Notable 4th-Round Tee Times
7:15 a.m. ET: Jon Rahm, Victor Perez
8:15 a.m. ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Francesco Molinari
9 a.m. ET: Patrick Cantlay, Jordan Spieth
9:10 a.m. ET: Adam Scott, Matt Fitzpatrick
9:20 a.m. ET: Tommy Fleetwood, Dustin Johnson
9:30 a.m. ET: Scottie Scheffler, Si Woo Kim
9:40 a.m. ET: Cameron Smith, Cameron Young
9:50 a.m. ET: Rory McIlroy, Viktor Hovland
Full list of tee times can be found here.
Rory McIlroy Outduels Viktor Hovland
Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland matched scores during Saturday's third round.
The same situation could come about Sunday, but McIlroy has a distinct advantage when it comes to playing in the final group at a major tournament.
McIlroy is a four-time major champion and has played in a smattering of final pairings throughout his career. Hovland is sitting in his highest position ever at a major after 54 holes.
In fact, Hovland has struggled to break into the top 10 at major tournaments since he earned the low amateur award at the Masters in 2019. His best major finish as a professional is a tie for 12th at the 2021 Open Championship.
Of course, things can change in an instant in major tournament golf, and Hovland is playing some of the best golf of anyone in the field, but Sunday comes with a different amount of pressure.
One or two bad decisions, or a missed shot, has the potential to send someone's round into a spiral. Just look at Mito Pereira at the PGA Championship for an example of that. Pereira looked like he would be the winner at Southern Hills, and then he fell apart and did not even make the playoff with Justin Thomas and Will Zalatoris.
Hovland possesses more overall experience than Pereira, but the point remains about what a player can face in his first time in the final group situation. One mistake on the back nine could be all McIlroy needs to jump into the lead.
McIlroy's advanced experience with bouncing back from bad breaks, or making the right decisions on the tee box to deal with the course should give him an edge over Hovland.
And then there is the one element Hovland can't control that will be on McIlroy's side. The crowd has been pro-McIlroy all week at St. Andrews, and McIlroy will be treated like Tiger Woods at Augusta National Golf Club.
Jordan Spieth Makes Push Into Top Five
Jordan Spieth made a move up into a tie for 11th place with a four-under 68 on Saturday.
Spieth will not win The Open unless McIlroy and Hovland go into complete collapse mode from the first hole on.
The three-time major champion can earn his second-ever top-five finish at St. Andrews through another solid day.
Spieth opened the third round with six pars and three birdies on the front nine. He only had two bogeys on the card, one of which took place on the par-three 11th hole.
Spieth has seven birdies and no bogeys on the front nine in his last two rounds. Another fast start could speed the American past a handful of other top-five contenders.
The best-case scenario for Spieth is to continue a fast start into the back nine and end up high on the leaderboard similar to what McIlroy produced at the Masters in April. McIlroy used a Sunday surge to take second behind Scottie Scheffler.
A strong Sunday at The Open is familiar to Spieth. He shot a 66 to take second behind Collin Morikawa last year and shot a 69 back in 2015 at St. Andrews to move into a top-five placing.