LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England (AP) — Brandt Snedeker has contended before at a major championship. Four years ago at the Masters, he faded to third on the final day, then broke down in tears when it was over.
This time, the quick-playing Tennessean hopes to be smiling when it’s over, posing with the claret jug.
Snedeker teed off Saturday in the third round of the British Open clinging to a one-shot lead over his playing partner in the final group, Australia’s Adam Scott.
Tiger Woods was lurking four shots back after a memorable finish to the second round, holing out from a bunker for a birdie at the 18th. But he got off to a very sluggish start, taking a couple of bogeys on the first three holes.
After Woods’ tee shot at the par-3 first hole rolled off the back of the green, he chipped about 8 feet short and missed the putt. Then, at No. 3, he left his approach shot short of the green, knocked it about 10 feet past the hole and missed that putt, too. That dropped him to 4 under, six strokes behind Snedeker.
Woods’ playing partner, Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark, moved into third place with pars on the first three holes, leaving him at 5 under. He was just thrilled to be playing with his childhood idol, saying he knew a birdie on the final hole of the second round would put him in the penultimate playing group with Woods.
Snedeker didn’t make any bogeys over the first two days at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, the first player to do that at the 36-hole mark of a major since Woods at St. Andrews in 2000. The leader was at 10-under 130, with Scott right on his heels. They both started steady, matching each other with pars on the first four holes.
The weather turned glorious along the Irish Sea, sunny and warm with maybe just enough wind to fly a kite on the beach. The big gusts are expected to arrive on Sunday, which could allow some players farther back to make a move. But the forecast can’t really be trusted in these parts.
Taking advantage of the favorable conditions, Masters champion Bubba Watson made a charge up the leaderboard before the last group teed off. He played the first 13 holes at 5 under, starting the back side with three birdies over a four-hole span. But a bogey at the 14th and a double-bogey at the 15th left with a rather disappointing 2-under 68.
He was the leader in the clubhouse with a 2-under 208 total through 54 holes, but those two bad holes likely ruined the left-hander’s chances of making a major challenge on Sunday.
Rekindling memories of Tom Watson nearly winning the Open three years ago at Turnberry, 52-year-old Mark Calcavecchia surged into contention with a 3-under 31 on the front side, pushing his cumulative score to 4 under.
India’s Anirban Lahiri gave the gallery a thrill when he aced the 150-yard ninth hole with a 9-iron.
Even before the hole-in-one, it already had been a memorable British Open for Lahiri’s homeland, which had two players makes the cut in golf’s oldest major for the first time. Jeev Milkha Singh also got through to the weekend.