2022 British Open leaderboard breakdown: Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland woke St Andrews by 66s in Round 3


2022 British Open leaderboard breakdown: Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland woke St Andrews by 66s in Round 3

On Moving Day of the 150th Open Championship, the top of the leaderboard took on a whole new form as Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland shot matching 66s to climb to the top at 16 under. Starting the day three shots behind 36-hole leader Cameron Smith, the two players in the penultimate group put on a show for the huge galleries surrounding the Old Course at St Andrews.

With each signing for rounds of 6 under, it was Hovland who threw the first shot as the young Norwegian carded four consecutive birdies in the front nine. Connecting on the greens from afar, the touch that has eluded Hovland for most of 2022 appeared to have returned. With a 4-under-32 spin, it was the par-4 10 that proved to be the defining moment for the pair.

From the fairway bunker, McIlroy had the shot of the championship when he blasted his second out of the sand and into the bottom of the cup, good for an unlikely hole-out eagle. Hovland was able to capitalize on his birdie opportunity and the two continued to trade shots down the back nine as each found their way to 200 points through 54 holes.

“It felt a bit like match play there. … I knew I just had to play good golf and I’m really happy that I was able to shoot a round without a bogey today,” said Hovland.

McIlroy and Hovland will go into the final lap with a four-stroke lead over Smith and Cameron Young, who struggled on Saturday and are 12-under. While both have a chance to lift the Claret Jug, the Champion Golfer of the Year is far more likely to come from the last pair.

Only four players have previously sat in Open Championships from 16 under to 54 holes. While all won the Claret Jug, that stat won’t hold up on Sunday as either McIlroy or Hovland – if not both – will come up short.

Here is the breakdown of the standings for the final round of the 150th Open.

T1 Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland (-16): It has been eight years since McIlroy won a Major title and Sunday will be his best chance to return to the winners’ circle at such a stage in quite some time. The Northern Irishman was nearly flawless on Saturday and trotted down the Old Course with a perfect mix of aggression and discipline. The entire crowd – and possibly the world – cheers for McIlroy to capture Major #5. Whether that puts pressure on him or puts him in the history books will soon be answered, although Rory has been talking all week about keeping a clear mind and staying true to himself lest the moment overwhelms him.

“It will cost a lot [of composure to win]. It’s nice to be able to play with Viktor again; We had a good day out there. It’s a comfortable pairing for both of us,” McIlroy said after the round. “Well, I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been knocking on the door for a while, and this is the best chance I’ve had in a long time. I just have to stay in my own little world for a day and hopefully I can play the kind of golf good enough to get the job done.”

T3. Cameron Smith and Cameron Young (-12): From the start you knew it was going to be a struggle for Smith when he inexplicably made three putts for a bogey on his opening hole. The Aussie failed to take advantage of the easier face of the Old Course, turning an even par and rattling off three straight pars to start his inner nine. If he doesn’t come back to win this, most will look back to his decision on the par-4 13th, which ultimately resulted in a double bogey. Still, with as much firepower as he has, if he can putt on Sunday like he did the first two days, he might have an outside chance.

T5. Scottie Scheffler and Si Woo Kim (-11): The world No. 1 had his chances to assert his claim to this championship, but the putter just let him down. His 3-under-69 felt about as bad as Scheffler could have played as he missed numerous short tries on the greens. Now five shots behind the lead, Scheffler still has to believe that if he can make his entire game cooperate, he can win this thing.

7. Dustin Johnson (-10): Overall it was a round of 1 under; but like Scheffler, it really was a “what could have been” day. The two-time Major winner shot out of the gate by birdie on two of his first three holes and began to climb the leaderboard when he made another pair around the turn. It was at this point that problems began for Johnson as he carded three bogeys in a four-hole stretch, with his putting problems rearing its ugly head. He probably won’t add Major #3, but crazier things have happened.

T8. Tommy Fleetwood, Matt Fitzpatrick and Adam Scott (-9): Fleetwood is no stranger to going under at major championships over the weekend, as he hit a sizzling 63 in the final round of the 2018 US Open. Not exactly a record day, but it was a strong performance from the Englishman who will need more of the same Sunday to pull off a miracle. He hoped the leaders wouldn’t get too far from him, but picking up seven shots might be asking too much.

“If [the leaders] Don’t go too far, it will be nice to tee off tomorrow feeling like we have a chance and see if we can get some momentum on the front nine,” Fleetwood said. “Yes it would be very cool and very special to be able to try again like a Sunday at The Open.”

T11. Jordan Spieth and Patrick Cantlay (-8): The back nine of the Old Course play out as a more difficult set and cause Spieth to stumble every day. Now bogey-free and 9-under for the first half of the week, Spieth has struggled on the back nine, where his Open Championship ambitions will fall short. Considering his game at the Scottish Open and his participation at St Andrews in 2015, Spieth should be dismayed.

T13. Kevin Kisner, Shane Lowry, Tyrrell Hatton and two others (-7): He needed a birdie on Friday’s 18th hole to make the cut, but Kisner now finds himself in the top 20. Saturday’s biggest mover, the Georgia Bulldog, shot out of the gate by yarding his first three holes and ended up playing 6 under 30. He added another on the 10th and played his last seven holes evenly Way. Had Kisner been told beforehand that he would be signing for a 7-under-65 – the round of the day – he would have been happy, but the composition of his round could actually lead to some disappointment as he missed numerous scoring chances.

T18. Bryson DeChambeau, Francesco Molinari, Russell Henley and three others (-6): It was a fun morning for DeChambeau as he scraped his plans to play conservative and let the big dog eat. The 2020 US Open champion, who pulled the driver early and often, was able to make a move as he was 6-under through his first 13 holes on the day. DeChambeau’s double bogey on No. 16, failing to capitalize on either of the two par 5s, halted any significant move toward the top of the leaderboard.

“I don’t think you’ll ever know how to play this golf course to the full. Every day is different,” DeChambeau said. “It shows a unique golf course every time the wind is up or not up. It’s just different. I don’t know how to explain it either. You can never really conquer it, really control it. You just have to get out there and try to take what it gives you and play the spots on the greens where you can and two putts where you have to.

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