South African George Coetzee showed what could be done despite the windy conditions at Royal Liverpool as he celebrated his birthday in style with a round of 69.
Coetzee turned 28 yesterday and gave himself the best possible present with a round which catapulted him up the leaderboard to sit just one stroke behind overnight leader Rory McIlroy.
He began the day at two under and went to the turn in level par 35 but had five birdies coming home – including three in succession from the 12th – to ensure a bogey at 17 did not put a dampener on his day.
“This is probably definitely (sic) my favourite major,” he said.
“It’s nice to play well, obviously, in a very prestigious event and to have my birthday coincide with it is also nice.
“It was quite a good feeling to look at my name and be at the top of the leaderboard.
“Obviously six-under was a hell of a score (Thursday) by McIlroy) and I didn’t think it was doable (Friday). But when I made birdie on the 13th I was like ‘Well, all right, now I’m pretty close’.”