Louis Oosthuizen will carry a one-shot lead over Collin Morikawa into the final round of the 149th Open Championship at Royal St George's after a battling 69 saw him move to 12 under on Saturday.
2020 US PGA champion Morikawa had the chance to draw level with his playing partner on the 18th hole, but could not convert a birdie from around 15 feet as he signed for a 68 to half Oosthuizen's overnight lead in sun-drenched Kent
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"I wasn't swinging it freely today," said Oosthuizen, who is bidding to claim a rare wire-to-wire victory in a major having led from the first round.
I was all over the place with my iron shots, but the R&A had some pins out there that were questionable. It was tough and I was glad I held it together.
"I'm very excited. It's a great position, but I need to play well tomorrow."
Having reached the turn in 33 to move to 13 under, the six-times major runner-up dropped shots at the 11th and 13th holes before recovering well to preserve his slender advantage.
2017 winner Jordan Spieth had joined the leading duo on 11 under, but dropped shots on the final two holes – including a two-foot putt on the 18th for par – saw him fall back to nine under, three behind Oosthuizen, who produced a brilliant par save on the 15th hole to ensure he didn't go backwards on the scoreboard.
24-year-old Morikawa did not flinch from his task as four birdies in the final eight holes maintained his momentum as he bids to claim the Claret Jug in his maiden Open appearance.
"I'm happy where I'm sitting right now," said the Las Vegas man. "I'm thrilled to be in contention. Hopefully, all the practise you put in, you can put it all together on the final 18 holes on Sunday."
On another day of sun and little wind, it was surprising nobody could apply more pressure at the top of the leaderboard with Corey Conners (66) of Canada and American Scottie Scheffler (69) sharing fourth place on eight under.
Jon Rahm claimed pin positions were used to protect the course without wind or rain in Sandwich as he carded a 68 to keep alive his quest for a US and British Open double on minus seven.
"You cannot tell on TV, but they are almost always on top of a little hill," said Rahm. "It's a way of defending the golf course."

Collin Morikawa of United States looks on on the first tee before starting his round during Day Three of The 149th Open at Royal St George’s Golf Club on July 17, 2021 in Sandwich.

Image credit: Eurosport

Open Championship leaderboard

  • -12 L Oosthuizen (SA)
  • -11 C Morikawa (US)
  • -9 J Spieth (US)
  • -8 C Conners (Can), S Scheffler (US)
  • -7 J Rahm (Spa), M Hughes (Can), D Frittelli (SA)
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