Rory McIlroy finally got the upper hand at the British Open, just barely.
McIlroy made five birdies on the first nine, only to fail to make a second nine at Royal St. George’s. It added a 69, its first under par round that week and only its second under 70 score in 13 rounds in the majors this year.
That means another Sunday of little importance and having to wait until April at the Masters before he has his next chance to end his 2014 losing streak in the majors.
âThe first nine were great. I keep saying I’m close and that was kind of proof that it’s in there, âsaid McIlroy. âIt’s about making 18 holes out of nine holes and then hopefully turning 18 holes into a whole tournament. There are signs that things are going in the right direction, I just couldn’t hold out for the rest of the lap. “
The frustration showed on the par 5 14th. McIlroy picked up the iron from the tee and still dragged left into the thick grass. He held the club to the left to point to the gallery and then tossed the club.
âIt wasn’t really a club toss, was it? It was just a small litter, âsaid McIlroy.
It was certainly not tough, not like the 3-iron he was hoisted into the water to the left of the eighth fairway in Doral once a year.
“I wasn’t like Tyrrell Hatton yesterday,” McIlroy said, referring to Hatton breaking a wedge in the middle.
McIlroy has a busy schedule. He returns to his Florida home for a week before heading to the Japan Olympics ahead of a World Golf Championship in Tennessee and the post-season PGA Tour of three consecutive events.
Dustin Johnson started the third round of the British Open just four strokes behind. Thriving from the majors, Brooks Koepka was another setback, having said earlier in the week he expected to be near the lead on Sunday.
Saturday is moving day in the majors, and both of them have moved in the wrong direction.
Johnson made two excellent par saves at the start of his round. Instead of settling into his game, it only got worse. He did not make a birdie until the par 5 14h and had fallen back 10 strokes by then. Johnson made two of the last five holes with a birdie to save a 73 and finished eight strokes back.
Koepka started with three bogeys on five holes and shot a 72. He was nine behind.
A BAD SHOT
Nobody has supplied the gallery with as much energy as Marcel Siem from Germany, who only qualified for the British Open on Sunday by winning a Challenge Tour event.
His cheers were muted until he got his first birdie on the 10th hole and brought him to 7-under par, very well within reach of the lead.
One swing changed everything.
Siem hit irons from the par-5 14th and it sailed to the right and over the perimeter fence separating Royal St. George’s from Prince’s Golf Club. He hit his third tee off (into the rough). After he hung up, his fifth went into a pot bunker and he ended up with a triple bogey.
“I’m not exactly sure if I missed a fairway before today,” said Siem. âI was just trying to hit a 2 iron down there. Not even thought of out-of-bounds. Tried to aim to the left of the bridge, met a low pursuer down there. Hit it on the heel and it cut it so much I couldn’t believe it. It’s very frustrating that that happened. “
He rallied with a birdie on the par-3 16th and hit it on the 18th with a final birdie and a hard-earned 70, leaving six behind.
Siem offered a slow motion fist pump that went from the 18th. It was a hard day.
“I’m very, very proud of myself that I forgot and I’m coming with two birdies, I’m very happy with that,” he said.
SPIETH ON MUTE
Jordan Spieth was still in the lead in the middle of the 17th fairway with a wedge in hand. He left the 18th green on a bogey-bogey finish – he missed a 2 foot par putt on the 18th hole – for a 69 and went straight to the practice green.
He stayed there for more than 30 minutes with his caddy and swing coach. The R&A said it had turned down all media requests.
It is not uncommon for a player to go straight to the practice area. It is rare for a player not to talk about their round less than an hour after leading a major on Saturday.
According to Golf Digest, he stopped for a few selfies with fans on the way out.
Spieth was three shots behind him, closer than ever in a major since he tied with Carnoustie three years ago.