Yesterday, however, saw a change, due not to any sudden outbreak of moral fibre, but to a rash of less humbling totals. There were only five scores in the 80s - in contrast to the first two days when there were 45 such scores per round. So Payne Stewart apart (and how appropriate that sounds) the R & A's Complaints Department was strangely empty.
TWO MEN who were typically absent from the queue of Thursday moaners - David Frost and Hal Sutton - would each provide extraordinary stories today were they to win. Vineyard-owning Frost, lying fourth after a 71 yesterday, had an 80 in the first round and would be the first winner with such a score since George Duncan in 1920.
Hal Sutton is a remarkable instance of a one-time golden-boy who has dragged his career back from the dead. PGA champion and leading money- winner in 1983, he had been reduced to scuffling along in 185th place on the US Tour by 1992. By last year, he had revived to win two events. Yesterday he shot an admirable 72 to be 10 off the lead and give himself an outside chance.
MANY FANCIED that Nick Price had the stoic temperament and the low-slinging iron shots to withstand all the provocations that Carnoustie can devise. And indeed he was chugging along well at the start of the third round, with two pars and a birdie - and a mere eight over for the Championship.
But his hopes of a charge foundered in the deep rough on the fourth. He took three attempts to get it onto the fairway, found the green in five, and left it with a triple-bogey seven and a score of 11 over from which he could not recover.
Fellow-member of the disaster club was South Korea's Choi Kyoung-ju, who began five off the lead in 12th place, improved to five-over with a birdie at the third - and then went double bogey, double bogey, double bogey, bogey, par, double bogey to fall to 14 over.
ONE OF the best early scores came from The Man With No Name. Known on the official scorecard as "marker", because that's exactly what he was, he went round in 76 in the company of Martyn Thompson, the last-place qualifier.
"Marker" is, in fact, Willie Milne, the professional attached to The Carnoustie Hotel. The former Walker Cup player had three birdies in a performance that some of the illustrious departed, like the defending champion, Mark O'Meara, would have settled for two days ago. Some of them would probably also have envied Milne his anonymity on the scoreboard.
THE NATIONAL Association of Sadists and Rubberneckers, hoping for some filthy weather and a further crop of disasters today, may be disappointed. The forecast for Carnoustie's final round is rather wimpish: mostly sunny with a risk of light rain.
ANDREW COLTART'S excellent one-over-par 72 leaves him well placed to scoop no fewer than three honours today. If he remains the leading Briton, he wins the Braid Taylor Memorial Medal, and if he has the best round by a home player he claims the wonderfully- christened Tooting Bec Cup. Oh, and if he beats everyone else he wins this little claret jug.Reuse content