Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Snedeker falters on front nine

Brandt Snedeker has relinquished the Open lead

Two unwelcome firsts for overnight leader Brandt Snedeker threw the Open Championship wide open midway through the third round at Royal Lytham today.

Snedeker had equalled the 36-hole Open record of 130 thanks to rounds of 66 and 64, in which he had not carded a single bogey or found one of Lytham's 206 dangerous bunkers. But the first of those streaks came to an end when he three-putted from just short of the fifth green, while the second ended just one hole later as his approach to the sixth found sand.

Snedeker recovered well with a pitch to five feet for a birdie on the par-five seventh, but playing partner Adam Scott - the first-round leader after his own 64 on Thursday - had taken over the lead on 10 under after six straight pars were followed by a two-putt birdie on the seventh.

Tiger Woods' bid for a first major title since 2008, and a 15th overall, looked to be fizzling out when he dropped two shots in his first three holes, but the American then holed from 60ft for birdie on the sixth, chipped and putted for another from the back edge of the seventh and converted a superb approach to five feet on the par-five ninth.

Playing partner Thorbjorn Olesen was refusing to be overwhelmed by playing with the former world number one, the Dane also recovering from two dropped shots to get back to five under at the turn.

That left him alongside 2002 winner Ernie Els, second and third in the last two Opens to be played at Lytham, who had picked up two shots in his first 11 holes.

Former Masters champion Zach Johnson had set the clubhouse target on five under after carding a 66.

Scott also birdied the eighth from 25 feet and with Snedeker dropping a shot there and at the ninth, Scott suddenly had a four-shot lead.

That looked in danger when the world number 13 found a fairway bunker off the 10th tee, but he holed from 20ft to save par and maintain his cushion.

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