Sandwich (United Kingdom) (AFP)
The 149th British Open is set for a captivating final on Sunday with Louis Oosthuizen, Collin Morikawa and Jordan Spieth separated by just three strokes.
Oosthuizen and Speith are both former Claret Jug winners, but Morikawa confirmed his status as a rising golf star in his first 54-hole Open Championship appearance.
World number two Jon Rahm is also not out of the question, five shots to the head, while Corey Connors and Scottie Scheffler could continue the tradition of surprise winners at Royal St George’s.
AFP Sport takes a look at five of the main contenders:
Louis Oosthuizen (-12)
– Oosthuizen can join a small group of wire-to-wire Open Championship winners if he maintains the lead he has held after each round this week.
Saturday afternoon saw the first cracks in the South African’s armor as after just one buggy in his first 46 holes, he had two out of three in the 11th and 13th.
The world number 13 also had to pierce a tricky putt to save par in 15th after a capricious approach, but stabilized, and his charge for a second major, with a birdie at 16 to regain the lead.
After claiming victory at the British Open at St Andrews 11 years ago, Oosthuizen had to endure six second places in the majors and is desperate to ‘do better’ on Sunday.
Collin Morikawa (-11)
– The cancellation of last year’s Open Championship meant Morikawa was making his first appearance in golf’s oldest major tournament, which was not the case in his first three rounds.
# photo1 After a nervous start to his third round, Morikawa rebounded to play the last 12 holes of four under par and briefly take a share of the lead before Oosthuizen sank his putt on 16.
The two will go out together again in the final duo, but the 24-year-old has said he “enjoys” the pressure of the big stage and his record confirms it.
In just seven previous major appearances, Morikawa has finished in the top 10 three times, including a victory at the 2020 US PGA.
Jordan Spieth (-9)
– Two bogeys in his last two holes on Saturday made a major dent in Spieth’s challenge to replicate his victory at the British Open 2017, but the American is still within reach.
# photo2The three-time major winner has regained his form after a crash saw him slip to 92nd in the world earlier this year.
Spieth also has a lot of support among the galleries at Royal St. George’s, but needs a quick start to put some pressure on the final couple.
Corey Conner (-8)
– Connors has only one PGA Tour victory under his belt at the Texas Open in 2019, but has major pedigree thanks to two Top 10 Masters rankings in the past two years.
As other famous names faltered on Saturday, the Canadian posted a bogey-less round of 66 to compete ahead of what could be the round of his life.
“I feel ready. I’m going to be a little late starting tomorrow, but I like where my game is, ”said the world number 38.
Jon Rahm (-7)
– If anyone is able to close a five-stroke shortfall on Oosthuizen, it’s the man who entered the week as a pre-tournament favorite thanks to his scintillating form.
After a disappointing opening round over par, no one improved the new US Open champion’s eight-under total for the final two rounds.
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