Defenceless Old Lady on Open Sunday

There's been a day of exceptional scoring in The Open at St Andrews

The Grand Old Lady
The Grand Old Lady
(Image credit: Getty Images)

What a difference a day makes. In benign conditions, the players at The Open Championship have made golf’s most historic course look something of a pushover.

After the disappointments of yesterday’s weather and the news that this year’s Open will finish on Monday, Sunday needed to be a corker in order to reignite this year’s championship. The fans in St Andrews were desperate to see some exciting action in the third round.

They got it. 2001 champion David Duval set the wheels in motion early doors with a nostalgic round of 67, then Marc Leishman posted a superb 64 that could have been one or two better. Eddie Pepperell was on course for something truly special until he fired out of bounds on the 17th. A round of 66 with a ball OB though is a pretty reasonable effort.

And the awesome golf continued through the second half of the field. It was almost impossible to keep up with all the changes going on at the top of the leaderboard through the leaders’ rounds. At one stage there were 35 players within four shots of the lead. Cheers were ringing out across the links as putt after putt disappeared into the cup.

The Irish amateur, Paul Dunne, took the lead with a birdie at the 10th; the first man to reach 11-under-par. Dunne was then joined by Masters and US Open champion Jordan Spieth. Amazingly Spieth, who is going for the third leg of the Grand Slam, is younger than the Irishman. But it’s Dunne who has the upper hand going into the final round – he finished with a superb 66 and is 12-under-par. At the age of 22, he’s one ahead of 21-year-old Spieth. Could he be the first amateur winner of the Open Championship since Bobby Jones in 1930?

2010 champion Louis Oosthuizen crept up to join playing partner Dunne on 12-under. The South African played some excellent golf during a third round of 67, and birdied the final hole to get in the house on the same score as the young amateur.

Jason Day arrived at the party with a birdie at the 13th to reach 11-under and kept his run going with another gain at the 15th. He too finished at 12-under and it’s those three – Dunne, Day and Oosthuizen who lead at the end of the third round.

Going into the final round there are 25 players within five shots of the lead and the tournament really is wide-open going into Monday. And those players in touch include: Padraig Harrington, Sergio Garcia, Retief Goosen, Justin Rose, Adam Scott, Charl Schwartzel and Rickie Fowler. Tomorrow looks set to be a belter.

Only 11 players failed to match or beat par today as the game’s most historic golf course was made to look something of a pushover. The average score for the day was under 70. It was ironic that, after too much wind yesterday, today there wasn’t enough to challenge them. The greens were hugely receptive today and the players were getting the ball to spin, even out of the rough. The putting surfaces were running so smoothly that almost every putt looked as though it had a chance to drop. It was these forgiving conditions that allowed the field to bunch so ridiculously.

The scoring was so impressive that it seemed almost disrespectful. Is it acceptable for strong young men to beat up an Old Lady?

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?