The Open 2018: Justin Rose shoots 64 at Carnoustie

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England’s Justin Rose shot a career-best round of 64 at a major to move up the third-round leaderboard at The Open in favourable conditions at Carnoustie.

Rose, 37, sneaked past the cut but sunk seven birdies on Saturday to go within two shots of the leaders at four under.

“I will need an even better final round to win but I have given myself a chance,” the world number three said.

Chris Wood looked set to match Rose’s round, but two late bogeys meant the Englishman signed for 66.

The 30-year-old, who was fifth as an amateur in 2008 and third a year later, is three under for the tournament.

Both players fell short of the course record of 63 set by compatriot Tommy Fleetwood – who tees off at 15:50 BST on Saturday – last year.

Rose carded the joint-lowest Open round at Carnoustie – matching Steve Stricker and Richard Green in 2007 – but fell short of Branden Grace’s major record of 62, which the South African recorded at The Open last year.

Rose’s dream ‘still alive’

Rose burst on to the scene as a 17-year-old amateur at Royal Birkdale in 1998, memorably chipping in on the last hole to clinch tied fourth on his Open debut.

Twenty years on, the world number three is a US Open and Olympic champion but has not been able to better that debut performance at his home major.

It looked like he would miss the cut at Carnoustie, only to birdie the 18th on Friday to move to three over and ensure he would return at the weekend.

Rose took full advantage of his reprieve with a wonderful third round in serene conditions on the Scottish links.

He made a confident start with birdies on the first and sixth holes to turn in 34, then accelerated on the back nine with five more – including the final two holes – to better his second-round 66 at Birkdale.

“There is always an opportunity to get out early and post something – the course was fresh. It was relatively calm and benign,” he said.

“I thought the pins were a touch easier than in the first few days. There was no doubt there was a good score on today.

“The dream is still alive when you are here on a Saturday.”

Rose was one of the early third-round starters, with the overnight leaders aiming to move clear of the Englishman in conditions forecast to still be favourable.

Scotland’s Paul Lawrie came from 10 shots behind after 54 holes to win the 1999 Open at Carnoustie, while Rose himself overcame an eight-stroke deficit to win the WGC Champions title in Shanghai last October.

Analysis

Ken Brown, BBC commentator and former European Tour player:

Watching Justin Rose finishing last night when he knew exactly what he needed to do to make the cut was fascinating. He was grafting, struggling, not holing putts or even looking like he was going to make one before one finally dropped on the 18th.

This morning, he came out refreshed, birdied the first with a putt from distance – and boom, he was off and running.

He finished 3-3-3 and that won’t be bettered all week. His best-ever round at a major means, as things stands, he is two off the lead. I’m sure there will be some low scores this afternoon, but if the wind picks up, he might not be far off.

What sticks in my mind as I look out of the back of our studio is that I can see him on the putting green, an hour after he finished his round, still working on his game. I guarantee he is prepared better that anyone else and is reaping the rewards.

He might just be the winner, you know…

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The Open 2018: Tommy Fleetwood eyes ‘special’ win at Carnoustie

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The 147th Open Championship
Venue: Carnoustie, Scotland Dates: 19-22 July
Coverage: Live across BBC Radio, highlights on BBC TV and online, live text commentaries on BBC website.

England’s Tommy Fleetwood says he would choose The Open if he had to pick “one tournament in my life to win” after moving into contention at Carnoustie.

The 27-year-old world number 10 shot a six-under-par 65 on Friday to sit five under.

He is bidding to become the first Englishman since Nick Faldo in 1992 to lift the Claret Jug.

“It would be very special. I can’t lie about it,” said Fleetwood. “I’ve never been anywhere near before.”

Fleetwood began his second round on Friday at one over par, but surged into contention with a superb display in wet conditions on the Scottish links.

He is aiming for his first major title after coming close at the US Open last month, where he fell a shot short of champion Brooks Koepka despite a scintillating final-round 63 – the joint-lowest score in the tournament’s history.

Fleetwood, who is the course record holder at Carnoustie, put himself into contention at the halfway stage of his home major with a superb round which did not feature a single bogey.

Last year was the first time in four attempts he had avoided missing the cut at The Open, going on to finish tied 27th on his local course, Royal Birkdale.

But he remains cautious about his chances over the weekend at Carnoustie, despite pushing himself among the front runners.

“We’re only halfway through the tournament, unfortunately,” said Fleetwood, who has won four European Tour titles in his career.

“There’s no point thinking about the end game. Thirty-six holes is a long time.

“Today’s been a round where I’ve put myself back in the tournament and I’ve just got to move on from there really.

“If I can hit it like I did today, then obviously I’m going to have a lot of chances coming in over the weekend and we’ll see where that takes me.”

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McIlroy ready to ‘go down swinging’

Rory McIlroy, the 2014 Open champion, is a shot behind Fleetwood at four under and the Northern Irishman said he was prepared “to go down swinging” by adopting an aggressive approach over the weekend.

The four-time major champion was in second position going into the final round of the Masters in April but a two-over 74 on the final day dropped him out of contention – and he acknowledged regret at not being more aggressive then.

“Sunday at Augusta was a big learning curve again for me, because even if I hadn’t won that tournament, but I went down swinging and aggressive and committing to every shot, I would have walked away a lot happier,” he said.

“So I’m committed to making sure, even if I don’t play my best golf and don’t shoot the scores I want, I’m going to go down swinging, and I’m going to go down giving it my best.”

He added: “I feel like there are low rounds in me. If I can get on a run or get off to a fast start in the next couple of days, I definitely see something like a 66 or a 65. I think I’m capable of that.”

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The Open 2018: Tommy Fleetwood takes share of lead, Rory McIlroy in contention

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The 147th Open Championship
Venue: Carnoustie, Scotland Dates: 19-22 July
Coverage: Live across BBC Radio, highlights on BBC TV and online, live text commentary and clips on the BBC Sport website.

England’s Tommy Fleetwood took the early clubhouse lead at The Open Championship as Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy also surged into contention on a rainy second day at Carnoustie.

Fleetwood, 27, carded a six-under-par 65 to move level with overnight leader Kevin Kisner on five under.

McIlroy, bidding for his first major since 2014, is a shot back on four under after a second successive 69.

Kisner, the 34-year-old American, has just started his round.

Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, the 2016 champion, is in danger of missing the cut after a four-over 75.

Fleetwood recovers after ‘hitting it rubbish’

Fleetwood is aiming for his first major title after coming close at the US Open last month, where he fell a shot short of champion Brooks Koepka despite a scintillating final round which saw him shoot the joint-lowest score in the tournament’s history.

The world number 10 put himself into contention at the halfway stage with a superb six-under-par 65 which did not feature a single bogey.

After carding a one-over 72 on Thursday, he wiped that out with a birdie on the fourth and moved under par for the tournament with another on the fifth.

He closed the front nine with another birdie and added three more on the back half, including one on the 18th, to move into the clubhouse lead.

Fleetwood holds the course record at Carnoustie after shooting a 63 at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in October.

“It was a struggle on Thursday,” he said. “I didn’t really hit it, I hit rubbish most of yesterday.

“We put in a good hour’s work last night and we played better. It was a really good round of golf.

“I came off the range feeling better and clearer and I thought if I could get it under par for the tournament that would be a great day.”

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The Open 2018: Rory McIlroy in contention, Jordan Spieth fades, Kevin Kisner leads

Rory McIlroy cards opening 69 at The Open

The 147th Open Championship
Venue: Carnoustie, Scotland Dates: 19-22 July
Coverage: Live across BBC Radio, highlights on BBC TV and online, live text commentaries on BBC website.

Rory McIlroy began his bid for a first major title in four years with an opening-round 69 at The Open Championship at Carnoustie.

The Northern Irishman, 29, sunk three birdies to leave him three shots behind early clubhouse leader Kevin Kisner.

American Kisner, 34, carded an eagle and four birdies in a five-under 66.

Reigning champion Jordan Spieth dropped four shots in his final four holes to card a one-over 72, a score matched by his playing partner Justin Rose.

“I am happy with 69 and I am happy with my day’s work,” said four-time major champion McIlroy, whose last major triumph came at the 2014 PGA Championship.

“I think with some of the spots I hit it off the tee I would take it. Even if you are off line you can still play from the rough and that is what I was able to do today.”

McIlroy made birdies on the third, 12th and 13th and a bogey on the fifth was his only blemish, helping him join England’s Matthew Southgate and Danny Willett on two under par.

World number one Dustin Johnson, rated among the pre-tournament favourites, saw his chances harmed with a triple bogey on the par-four 18th to finish with a five-over 76.

South African pair Erik van Rooyen and Zander Lombard, along with American Tony Finau, are a shot adrift of Kisner in the clubhouse after 67s, while Brandon Stone – another South African who won the Scottish Open earlier this week – is a further shot behind.

There are 156 players aiming to win the 147th Open, which is being staged at Carnoustie for the first time since 2007.

Spieth rues ‘missed opportunity’

Spieth, a three-time major champion, is bidding to become the first player to retain the Claret Jug since Ireland’s Padraig Harrington a decade ago.

The world number six finished third at the Masters earlier this year, but has missed three cuts in seven events since.

Birdies on the second and fourth helped him turn in 34, adding another on the 11th. However, he carded a double bogey on the 15th, dropped another shot on the 16th, then scrambled a bogey on the last after driving into the Barry Burn.

“It felt like a missed opportunity. I felt like I was really going well,” said the Texan.

“I think I’m certainly in a recoverable situation. I mean, I imagine this is as easy as the course could play.”

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Spieth is one of seven American players sharing a house of the east coast of Scotland this week – along with early leader Kisner.

Only Kisner and Rickie Fowler, who shot an opening one-under 70, have not won a major among the group, with Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson and Jimmy Walker having claimed eight between them.

“It’s not intimidating at all,” said Kisner. “They’re all great people.

“Everybody is just really chill and it’s a lot of fun to be around those guys. There’s a lot of great players. It’s really cool just to hear what they have to say.”

All four of golf’s biggest prizes are held by US players, with Spieth joined by Thomas (PGA Championship), Patrick Reed (Masters) and Brooks Koepka (US Open) as the current major champions.

Reed opened with a four-over 75, while five-time major champion Phil Mickelson shot a 73.

Kevin Kisner plays a bunker shot on the 17th at Carnoustie during the Open Championship first round

Willett coming back from ‘dark place’

Yorkshireman Willett, 30, has struggled for form and fitness since his surprise win at the 2016 Masters, dropping towards the foot of the world’s top 500 before climbing back up to 320th in recent weeks.

He faced an early alarm call, teeing off in the third group of the day at 06:57 BST, but responded with an impressive round containing five birdies.

He started with a bogey on the first, and closed with two more, but played superbly in between to leave him feeling positive after his struggles over the past two years.

“I’m pretty hopeful we’ll never be in as dark a place as we were,” Willett said.

Asked to explain how dark it had been, he added: “Pitch black. It wasn’t good for a while but that’s kind of the situation we were in.

“We were fighting and the body was being really uncooperative. Unfortunately in this game, trying to travel and play 26 weeks around the world, travelling a countless amount of air miles, isn’t good for the body.”

Southgate, 28, says knowing the course – he grew up in Southend, but his father was a Carnoustie member – was a key factor in matching Willett to card a two-under 69, featuring two eagles.

“I don’t think you can ever know a golf course too well but I think it helps when you know, if you miss a green, exactly what you’re faced with next,” he said.

Fellow Englishman Chris Wood finished one under while Andy Sullivan and Eddie Pepperell, who only qualified with a second-place finish at the Scottish Open four days ago, signed for level-par 71s.

Tommy Fleetwood, runner-up in last month’s US Open, is one over, alongside Lee Westwood and Matthew Fitzpatrick with Paul Casey two over.

Scottish amateur Sam Locke, who works part-time in 1999 champion Paul Lawrie’s Aberdeenshire golf centre, shot 72 on his Open debut.

Northern Ireland’s Darren Clarke, the 2011 champion, could only manage an 82 to stand over 11 over.

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