Carnoustie: Justin Rose matched the lowest score in Carnoustie’s British Open history, a flawless seven-under-par 64 in the third round on Saturday.
A day after making the cut with nothing to spare thanks to a birdie at the 36th hole, Rose made the most of his reprieve on a serenely calm morning on the east coast of Scotland.
The world No. 3 capped off a flawless performance with birdies at the final two holes, running in a 12-footer at the last for the lowest round of the championship.
Also impressing early were Japan’s Yusaku Miyazato, who had a bogey-free 65, and England’s Chris Wood, who had a 66.
He posted a four-under 209 total, finishing nearly three hours before halfway leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner had even teed off at six-under.
Despite his stellar performance, it seemed likely Rose would still stay several shots behind at day’s end, because conditions were expected to stay benign throughout the afternoon, with only the slightest breeze wafting across the links.
Nevertheless, the 2013 US Open champion was delighted with his day’s work.
“Momentum wise, birdieing the final hole picking up where I left off last night got me into the round early,” Rose said.
“The first couple of days were difficult and frustrating. The birdie on 18 last night freed me up and very happy to be here.
“I kept it together mentally, felt a bit more in control with my game too. To keep a clean sheet on this course obviously leads to great stuff.
“That was a lovely morning’s golf.
“It was the morning you hope for. There is always an opportunity to get out early and post something — the course was fresh. It was relatively calm and benign. 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.
“There is a lot of work ahead. I will need an even better round tomorrow to win the tournament but I have given myself a chance.
Rose said he had birdied the easier holes, but still arrived at the difficult closing stretch knowing he needed to pick up a couple more strokes to give himself even an outside chance heading into Sunday.
“Playing the last four holes I was pushing myself to make a couple more,” he said.
“Those late couple of birdies certainly tomorrow will make it at least interesting.”
Rose’s round matched the 64 shot by American Steve Stricker in the third round here in 2007, while Australian Richard Green shot the same score in the final round back when the Open most recently was played at Carnoustie.
Also impressing early on Saturday were Japan’s Yusaku Miyazato, who had a bogey-free 65, and England’s Chris Wood, who had a 66.
Both are now three-under for the championship, although it could have been better for Wood, who was seven-under for his round after 13 holes.
However, he dropped shots at the long 14th and the 17th, before a sensational par save at the last after his approach ended up nestled against a fence.
“To be honest, it wouldn’t have changed my mood an awful lot because the way I’ve played the first couple of days has been terrible,” said the Englishman when asked how important that had been for his round.
“It was a good effort to get through and make the weekend really. So there’s no way I expected to be seven-under on the day.
“So to shoot mid-60s today, regardless of how I finished, would have been a good effort,” added Wood, who finished tied for third in The Open at Turnberry nine years ago.
Carnoustie, often the most difficult course on the Open rota, was there for the taking.