After missing out on the Open Championship last year, we deserved a great tournament. Sunday, we’ll get exactly that.
The 149th Open Championship will conclude with a trio of golf’s finest talents — Louis Oosthuizen, Collin Morikawa and Jordan Spieth — dueling for the Claret Jug. They stand a stroke clear of the field after a Moving Day that saw each one squander, and capitalize on, chances at an increasingly slippery Royal St. George’s.
Spieth, the 2017 Open champion, wrapped what had been a highly successful afternoon with two infuriating bogeys, including one from about 18 inches on the 18th. That left him at -9 for the tournament and spoiled what had been looking like a true return to major-winning form. Spieth has won exactly one tournament — this year’s Valero Texas Open — since that 2017 Open at Royal Birkdale.
Everything so far in 2021 had been trending toward a victory for Spieth, but he’ll have to shake off the memories of those final two holes in a hurry on Sunday. After he finished his round, he virtually sprinted off the green, signed his card and headed straight to the putting green to work out whatever tics he could.
Morikawa is attempting to become the first player ever to win two majors in his debut. A brilliant Friday put him at the top of the leaderboard, but he faltered early on Saturday, bogeying two of his first five holes. But Morikawa is one of the finest iron players in the game, and shortly after his second bogey, he rediscovered his swing. He finished the day at -2 on the round and -11 overall, a single stroke behind Oosthuizen.
And then there’s Oosthuizen, who’s stacking up every honor he possibly can short of winning another major. Eleven years after winning his only one, at St. Andrews, Oosthuizen is yet again in position to win a major. He’s had six runner-ups at majors in his career, including the two most recent at the PGA Championship and the U.S. Open. On Friday, he set the 36-hole scoring record at the Open, and he’s now held the lead or co-lead at six of the last 10 major rounds. After struggling a bit in the early holes, Oosthuizen settled down and brought home a 1-under round that left him in the solo lead at -12.
Conditions Saturday were once again quite un-Open-like, with blue skies and gentle breezes across Royal St. George’s. But the continued dry conditions meant that the greens were drying out, becoming faster and more slippery … as Spieth could attest.
Further down the leaderboard, American Scottie Scheffler and Canadian Mackenzie Hughes sit one stroke behind Spieth at -8. Jon Rahm, among others, is at -7, likely the farthest back from which a player could hope to charge the leaders on Sunday.
Elsewhere on the course, the world’s finest players provided a little entertainment. For instance, here’s Jazz Janewattananond going to his knees to escape a bunker (and make par):
Rory McIlroy certainly seemed like he was headed for a good day, going out in -4, but — as all too often happens for McIlroy these days, he began leaking oil, finally culminating with this frustrated club toss:
On the plus side, Lee Westwood had a bit of fun, pretending to snap his club after a brilliant approach:
The 149th Open Championship concludes Sunday.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee or contact him at [email protected]
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