Louis Oosthuizen emerged from a three-way tie late Saturday with a picture-perfect birdie on the 16th hole to move to 12 under, taking the lead for the third straight round at the British Open.
After consecutive runner-up finishes at the PGA Championship and U.S. Open, the South African will return to Royal St. George’s in Sandwich, England, on Sunday looking to secure his second career major title — 11 years after his 2010 victory at the British Open.
Collin Morikawa (68) is a stroke behind at 11 under, with Jordan Spieth in third at 9 under.
Oosthuizen (69) landed his tee shot at the par-3 16th less than 10 feet in front of the cup and converted the birdie to regain the solo lead. Entering that hole, he, Morikawa and Spieth were knotted at 11 under.
Spieth (69) tarnished another strong round by closing with two bogeys, including a muffed three-foot par putt on No. 18.
Scottie Scheffler (69) and Canada’s Corey Conners (66) are tied for fourth at 8 under. U.S. Open champion Jon Rahm (68) of Spain, Canadian Mackenzie Hughes (68) and South Africa’s Dylan Frittelli (70) are tied for sixth at 7 under.
Royal St. George’s had no defense on Thursday and Friday without strong coastal winds, producing an uncharacteristically low scoring average. In response, the R&A set up the course at its maximum length Saturday and chose more difficult pin locations.
For the third straight day, Oosthuizen made it through the front nine bogey-free and touched 13 under with birdies on Nos. 7 and 9. Morikawa, meanwhile, recovered from two early bogeys with consecutive birdies on the seventh and eighth.
But after Oosthuizen made just his second bogey of the championship at No. 11, there was a two-shot swing at No. 13. Oosthuizen missed left of the green and failed to save par after Morikawa drained a long birdie, bringing the 24-year-old within a shot of the South African.
At No. 14, Oosthuizen again missed his approach left and saved par, and Morikawa tied him and Spieth at 11 under with a two-putt birdie.
Spieth chased Oosthuizen early with four birdies and a bogey over his first eight holes. He walked in another birdie on the 10th to cut his deficit to one shot — then found a bunker off the tee at the par-3 11th and gave a shot back.
Spieth wouldn’t score under par again. He slipped out of the three-way tie with a bogey on No. 17, where his bump play on the second shot didn’t make it up over the false front and rolled back to him. Then came his surprise three-putt on the final hole.
Conners shot up the leaderboard with a 4-under 66. He opened with nine straight pars before doing the entirety of his damage with four birdies across Nos. 10-14. Scheffler’s quiet 69 featured 15 pars and kept him where he started the third round — in a tie for fourth.
Rahm muddled through the first part of his day until he birdied Nos. 12, 14 and 17 and saved par at 18 to shoot a 68 and remain in contention. Hughes (68) sank a long birdie putt on his final hole to join the tie at 7 under.
Dustin Johnson’s errant approach shot on No. 4 hit the rear end of a marshal who had his back turned to the course. His ball redirected back toward the hole but rolled off the front lip of the green.
It led to the first of five bogeys over Johnson’s first 11 holes. The World No. 1 took himself out of the hunt with a 73 that dropped him to 4 under after 54 holes.
In the early part of the day, Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre produced the low round with a 5-under 65. From off the 18th green, he drained an incredible lag putt with multiple breaks for his sixth and final birdie.
Rory McIlroy came out hot with five birdies and one bogey on the front nine. But the star from Northern Ireland came apart after the turn, carding three bogeys and no birdies on the back. He hurled his iron to the ground after an errant tee shot on No. 14 and finished with a 1-under 69 to follow a pair of 70s.
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