Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts took full advantage of a glorious summer’s day by ripping up the Lytham course in changing winds to shoot a five-under 65 in the final round of the British Open on Sunday.
The winner of this year’s World Match Play Championship in Spain pointed the way for leader Adam Scott and the Australian’s title rivals, who all start later in the day, by charging through the field to finish on one-under 279.
Scott holds a four-stroke lead over playing partner Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland and American Brandt Snedeker, with former world number one Tiger Woods ready to pounce a further shot adrift in fourth place.
With the sun beating down on the Lancashire links and the wind not as strong as predicted, Colsaerts seemed hell bent on making up for his previous rounds of 77 and 72 after having started his campaign with a sparkling 65.
The 29-year-old, who comes from a sporting family and had a great grandfather who competed for Belgium at basketball and water polo in the 1920 Olympics, made his intentions clear with a first-hole birdie.
Colsaerts dropped a stroke at the third before reeling off five birdies in an inspired 12-hole run from the fifth.
“It’s difficult not to have a smile on my face,” he told reporters. “I was quickly under par and gave myself chances a lot of times.
“There were still a few putts that didn’t drop but it’s great to come down the last couple of holes and have your game on. It was very pleasurable.”
Colsaerts said his birdie two at the first was the highlight of his round.
“I hit a fantastic shot, got the round going and got in a great mood,” he added.
“Since yesterday I have picked up the pace of the greens very well. Every time I was inside 20, 25, 30 feet I felt like I was at least going to shave the hole and give myself a decent chance.”
Britain’s Ross Fisher and John Senden of Australia also posted early sub-70 scores.
Senden carded a 68 to finish on 284, four over, while Fisher returned a 69 for 286 that included an eagle two at the 16th where he drove the green and drained a monster 70-foot putt.
World number two Rory McIlroy completed a disappointing week with a 73 for an eight-over-par total of 288 and number three Lee Westwood signed off with a 72 at six over for the tournament.