The Open, 3rd round: Jordan Spieth wants showdown with Tiger Woods

Jordan Spieth will take a share of the lead into the final round of the 147th Open Championship as he looks to become the first back-to-back winner for a decade.

On course: Jordan Spieth acknowledges the crowd at the end of his round.

But he could get the battle with Tiger Woods he has always pictured in his head with the 14-time major winner lurking ominously among the chasing pack after a thrilling day of low scoring at a defenceless Carnoustie.

The tone was set when Spieth drove the first green on the 380-yard par four and holed from 12 feet for eagle on his way to a bogey-free 65 to finish nine under par, a total matched by compatriots Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner.

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Another American, Kevin Chappell, is two shots off the lead with Italy’s Francesco Molinari on six under and Woods another stroke back alongside Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood, Webb Simpson, Alex Noren, Matt Kuchar and Zach Johnson.

“I’ve always wanted to battle it out with Tiger in a major - who hasn’t?” said Spieth. “I’ve played it out at Augusta in my head.”

The last player to make a successful title defence was Ireland’s Padraig Harrington, who coincidentally won at Carnoustie in 2007 and again 12 months later at Royal Birkdale.

Spieth’s victories would be the other way around and make it four wins in his last 15 majors, during which time the 24-year-old has also finished second twice, third and fourth.

One of those runners-up finishes came after blowing a five-shot lead with nine holes to play in defence of his Masters title, while the fourth place came when he finished a shot outside a three-man play-off for the 2015 Open at St Andrews in pursuit of the third leg of an unprecedented calendar grand slam.

“I can certainly draw on the all major championship experiences, good and bad that I’ve had. I’ve had a career’s worth in a few years,” said Spieth, who admitted he found it “difficult” to hand over the Claret Jug when he arrived in Carnoustie on Monday.

“I know as well as anyone that anything can happen in the Open. I’m not getting ahead of myself, I’m just in a good position.”

Woods has not played in the Open since 2015 due to injury and is without a victory since 2013, while the last of his 14 major titles to date came a decade ago in the US Open.

But the 42-year-old has made a remarkable return to action since undergoing spinal fusion surgery last April, and a third round of 66 certainly had his legion of fans believing in what had once seemed impossible.

“It seemed like everybody was shooting six, seven under and I figured I could probably do the same and I needed to with the leaders starting at six. I need to go get it,” Woods said.

“It’s one of my better rounds I’ve played. I felt I really had control of the ball.”

That was certainly not true on the 18th, his tee shot seemingly destined to find the Barry Burn only to take a fortunate bounce to the right to stay on dry land.

But Woods made the most of his good fortune to make par and added: “It kept me in the fight.”

England’s Justin Rose is a shot behind Woods after earlier equalling the lowest score in an Open at Carnoustie with a brilliant 64.

Rose, who finished fourth in the Open as a 17-year-old amateur 20 years ago, birdied the 18th hole on Friday evening to make the halfway cut with nothing to spare on three over par.

And the Olympic champion carried on where he left off on Saturday, taking advantage of benign conditions to fire seven more birdies to match the 64s recorded by Steve Stricker and Richard Green the last time Carnoustie staged the Open in 2007.

“It was massive to take advantage today,” said Rose after the lowest score of his career in any major. “I was very excited last night not to be down the road, rueing another Open opportunity gone. I picked up where I left off and it was a great day’s work.”

Collated third round scores (Gbr & Irl unless stated, par 71):

204 Xander Schauffele (USA) 71 66 67, Kevin Kisner (USA) 66 70 68, Jordan

Spieth (USA) 72 67 65

206 Kevin Chappell (USA) 70 69 67

207 Francesco Molinari (Ita) 70 72 65

208 Rory McIlroy 69 69 70, Tiger Woods (USA) 71 71 66, Zach Johnson (USA) 69 67

72, Alex Noren (Swe) 70 71 67, Tommy Fleetwood 72 65 71, Matt Kuchar (USA) 70 68

70, Webb Simpson (USA) 70 71 67

209 Tony Finau (USA) 67 71 71, Charley Hoffman (USA) 71 70 68, Adam Scott (Aus)

71 70 68, Justin Rose 72 73 64, Austin Cook (USA) 72 70 67, Zander Lombard (Rsa)

67 71 71, Erik Van Rooyen (Rsa) 67 71 71

210 Chris Wood 70 74 66, Kyle Stanley (USA) 72 69 69, Byeong-Hun An (Kor) 73 71

66, Danny Willett 69 71 70, Haotong Li (Chn) 71 72 67, Thorbjorn Olesen (Den) 70

70 70, Yusaku Miyazato (Jpn) 71 74 65, Ryan Moore (USA) 68 73 69

211 Satoshi Kodaira (Jpn) 72 71 68, Pat Perez (USA) 69 68 74, Shaun Norris

(Rsa) 74 68 69, Patrick Cantlay (USA) 70 71 70, Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa) 72 70 69,

Lucas Herbert (Aus) 73 69 69, Michael Kim (USA) 73 69 69, Sean Crocker (USA) 71

71 69

212 Phil Mickelson (USA) 73 69 70, Bernhard Langer (Ger) 73 71 68, Eddie

Pepperell 71 70 71, Rickie Fowler (USA) 70 69 73

213 Jason Dufner (USA) 75 70 68, Ross Fisher 75 70 68, Sung Kang (Kor) 69 72

72, Brandon Stone (Rsa) 68 72 73, Stewart Cink (USA) 72 70 71, Tom Lewis 75 70

68, Julian Suri (USA) 74 69 70, Marc Leishman (Aus) 72 72 69, Patrick Reed (USA)

75 70 68, Lee Westwood 72 72 69, Thomas Pieters (Bel) 70 73 70

214 Jason Day (Aus) 71 71 72, Marcus Kinhult (Swe) 74 69 71, Yuta Ikeda (Jpn)

70 73 71, Adam Hadwin (Can) 73 70 71, Matthew Southgate 69 72 73

215 Shubhankar Sharma (Ind) 73 71 71, Gary Woodland (USA) 71 72 72, Rhys Enoch

74 71 70, Masahiro Kawamura (Jpn) 77 67 71, Sam Locke (a) 72 73 70

216 Ryan Fox (Nzl) 74 71 71, Cameron Davis (Aus) 71 72 73, Brett Rumford (Aus)

74 70 72, Kevin Na (USA) 70 73 73, Brooks Koepka (USA) 72 69 75, Paul Casey 73

71 72, Gavin Green (Mal) 72 73 71, Henrik Stenson (Swe) 70 75 71

217 Luke List (USA) 70 70 77, Brendan Steele (USA) 68 76 73, Cameron Smith

(Aus) 73 71 73, Paul Dunne 71 73 73, Tyrrell Hatton 74 71 72

218 Keegan Bradley (USA) 74 71 73, Bryson DeChambeau (USA) 75 70 73, Si Woo Kim

(Kor) 71 72 75

219 Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha) 74 71 74

220 Beau Hossler (USA) 73 70 77, Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Spa) 74 70 76