Casey within striking distance of glory

Home hope faces final day of destiny after closing gap on leader Oosthuizen
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The Independent Online

For Paul Casey the day has arrived. His talent has always demanded he take his place on the biggest stages of the game and they don't come any bigger than the final round of a major at the Home of Golf. Particularly when there has been no home winner of The Open Championship this century.

All Casey now has to do is negotiate a path around the formidable Old Course and at the same bypass the equally imposing Louis Oosthuizen. The Englishman did manage to reduce the South African's lead from six to four yesterday with a 67 which displayed his God-given quality to the full. The truth is, Casey is not best suited to links golf. But when Casey's on, it doesn't matter what sort of course he is on.

Oosthuizen, however, may not be swiped aside as easily as many in an expectant audience will hope. The 27-year-old coped with the pressure superbly yesterday with a 69 which was solidity and opportunism personified. The world No 54 was in the comfort zone despite three-putting the first. He remained patient and let the pars take care of the birdies.

They did most startingly on the 16th, when he holed a 50-footer, and on the 18th, when he drove the green. Both shots in his 3-4-3 finish afforded his candidature for golfing immortality further validity, as, of course, did his 15-under total. It would be a lie, however, to suggest that every expert here is yet convinced by his credibility to join the likes of Woods, Nicklaus, Faldo, Ballesteros and Palmer as St Andrews champions. Oosthuizen will never have experienced giddying tension anywhere near the same orbit as this.

Saying that, Casey has not truly been there either. Yes, he finished sixth on his first outing at The Masters and seventh at Birkdale two years ago. But both times he was gone by the stretch. Believe it, this will be Casey's greatest challenge to date as well. "I would love to replicate this round tomorrow," said the 32-year-old. "I'm not sure it would be enough with the way Louis is playing but I was very happy with that. I'm not able to explain what winning here would mean to me. It would be the ultimate."

If the top two should falter then there is quartet of Europeans lurking. Martin Kaymer and Alejandro Canizares on eight-under after a 68 and a 70 respectively; Henrik Stenson and another Englishman in Lee Westwood on seven-under after 67 and 71. None of these will feel out of contention on a course which lends itself to wild variations of scoring. St Andrews has been known in the past to host a bit of unexpected drama.

Low and high numbers were eminently possible in a third round in which the capricious winds remained consistent (if gusts of up to 25mph could ever be described as "consistent", that is). Blessedly the rain stayed away, effecting what the locals would refer to as "proper conditions" for seaside sport. Certainly the discarding of the waterproofs released the galleries into their frenzy.

This place had been eerily flat in the opening days. But yesterday the ancient links shook and never more so than when Casey and playing partner Westwood came through. Casey went out in five-under 31 to eat into Oosthuizen's overnight five-stroke lead and at one stage close to within one. From there he pressed on before Louis pulled away again. It was thrilling, fascinating fare which lasted past 9pm, thanks to the wind delay of Friday.

The Americans might not agree. They have only one representative in the top eight and that is Dustin Johnson, on six-under, the big-hitter who so spectacularly blew last month's US Open with a final-round 81.

However strong his challenge looked after a 69, the leaderboard was not the most pleasurable of reads for the country which has celebrated seven winners out of the last 10 Opens and seven winners out of the last nine St Andrews Opens.

Their flag-bearer was well back on three-under after a frustrating 73. All known previous evidence says Tiger Woods will not be making history as the first player to win three St Andrews Opens. His 14 major titles were all lifted when he was either leading or sharing the lead going into the final round. The world No 1 had been ominously placed overnight and his mood beforehand also sent out worrying portents to his rivals. On the practice green, his playing partner and great friend Darren Clarke told him a joke and Woods fell about laughing. But within an hour he was back cursing as the bogeys arrived.

This seems the problem with Woods since his comeback from that rather well-publicised sex scandal. He has a day like he did here on Friday, or like he did at the US Open on the Saturday, where he reminds you of the old Tiger. "He's back," everyone says. Then the next day he reassumes the guise of the new Tiger. The putts stay up, the head goes down and even though he insists afterwards that progress is being made, everyone else returns to wondering whether he will ever be what he was. Could we really be witnessing a blank major year for Woods, one that featured his two favourite venues in Pebble Beach and the Old Course? For many of us that would be as shocking as all those revelations.

At least the public have been welcoming and that has not been as inevitable as some would have it. There is a capacity for rows between golfers and fans. Sometimes even the security guards become involved. Take Ian Poulter, who was spoken to yesterday by the police following a contretemps. After the Englishman posted a miserable 76 he was walking through the cordon towards the Players' Lounge when a fan shouted a comment that Poulter described as "personal and inappropriate".

Poulter admitted muttering something in retaliation and this was when he became involved in a heated exchange with a security guard. A nearby policeman contacted his superior and soon more police arrived. There was no official complaint, although a spokesman for the Fife constabulary said he expected the R&A "to deal with it". Just another bizarre incident in an Open full of them.

In the final hour Miguel Angel Jimenez felt obliged to hit his ball against the wall behind the 17th green. The Mechanic's audacity paid off as it rebounded on to the Road Hole green. Soon after, Jimenez was walking away with his arm held aloft to rapturous acclaim. The Spaniard had just double-bogeyed. At St Andrews the wonder never stops. And Oosthuizen has the chance to discover that, for the champion, it never has to.

Third round scores

201

Louis Oosthuizen (SA) 65 67 69

205

Paul Casey (Eng) 69 69 67

208

Martin Kaymer (Ger) 69 71 68

209

Henrik Stenson (Swe) 68 74 67

Lee Westwood (Eng) 67 71 71

Alejandro Canizares (Sp) 67 71 71

210

Dustin Johnson (US) 69 72 69

211

Nick Watney (US) 67 73 71

Retief Goosen (SA) 69 70 72,

Sean O'Hair (US) 67 72 72

Ricky Barnes (US) 68 71 72

212

Robert Karlsson (Swe) 69 71 72

Rory McIlroy (N Ire) 63 80 69

J B Holmes (US) 70 72 70

Sergio Garcia (Sp) 71 71 70

Shane Lowry (Rep Ire) 68 73 71

Jin Jeong* (S Kor) 68 70 74

213

Robert Rock (Eng) 68 78 67

Ross Fisher (Eng) 68 77 68

Camilo Villegas (Col) 68 75 70

Lucas Glover (US) 67 76 70

Tiger Woods (US) 67 73 73

Peter Hanson (Swe) 66 73 74

Miguel Angel Jimenez (Sp) 72 67 74,

Ignacio Garrido (Sp) 69 71 73

214

Kevin Na (US) 70 74 70

Phil Mickelson (US) 73 71 70

Steve Marino (US) 69 76 69

Mark Calcavecchia (US) 70 67 77

Stephen Gallacher (Sco) 71 73 70

Charl Schwartzel (SA) 71 75 68

Luke Donald (Eng) 73 72 69

Adam Scott (Aus) 72 70 72

Jeff Overton (US) 73 69 72

Bo van Pelt (US) 69 72 73

Fredrik Andersson Hed (Swe) 67 74 71

Tom Lehman (US) 71 68 75

215

Robert Allenby (Aus) 69 75 71

Stewart Cink (US) 70 74 71

Graeme McDowell (N Ire) 71 68 76

216

Steve Stricker (US) 71 74 71

Hunter Mahan (US) 69 76 71

Soren Kjeldsen (Den) 72 74 70

Zane Scotland (Eng) 70 74 72

Marc Leishman (Aus) 73 71 72

Simon Khan (Eng) 74 69 73

Bradley Dredge (Wal) 66 76 74

Marcel Siem (Ger) 67 75 74

Alvaro Quiros (Sp) 72 70 74

John Daly (US) 66 76 74

Ryo Ishikawa (Japan) 68 73 75

217

Colm Moriarty (Rep Ire) 72 73 72

John Senden (Aus) 68 76 73

Simon Dyson (Eng) 69 75 73

Matt Kuchar (US) 72 74 71

Rickie Fowler (US) 79 67 71

Tom Pernice Jnr (US) 72 74 71

Kyung-Tae Kim (S Kor) 70 74 73

Andrew Coltart (Sco) 66 77 74

Trevor Immelman (SA) 68 74 75

Y E Yang (S Kor) 67 74 76

Vijay Singh (Fij) 68 73 76

Darren Clarke (N Ire) 70 70 77

Toru Taniguchi (Japan) 70 70 77

218

Peter Senior (Aus) 73 71 74

Heath Slocum (US) 71 74 73

Steven Tiley (Eng) 66 79 73

Edoardo Molinari (It) 69 76 73

219

Hirofumi Miyase (Japan) 71 75 73

Colin Montgomerie (Sco) 74 71 74

Scott Verplank (US) 72 73 74

220

Zach Johnson (US) 72 74 74

Ian Poulter (Eng) 71 73 76

Danny Chia (Malay) 69 77 74

Jason Day (Aus) 71 74 75

221

Thomas Aiken (SA) 71 73 76

222

Richard S Johnson (Swe) 73 73 76

Missed cut (GB or N Ire unless stated): 147 M O'Meara (US) 69 78, J Rose 70 77, T Bjorn (Den) 70 77, O Wilson 68 79, T Whitehouse 73 74, B Watson (US) 74 73, Eric Chun (S Kor) 71 76, G Havret (Fr) 73 74. 148 Seung-yul Noh (S Kor) 72 76, T Watson (US) 73 75, G Maybin 72 76, R Davies 73 75, G Fernandez-Castano (Sp) 72 76, B Crane (US) 72 76, R Oda (Japan) 76 72, M Weir (Can) 73 75, E Els (SA) 69 79, T Goya (Arg) 70 78, R McGowan 68 80. 149 M Sim (Aus) 72 77, C Wood 70 79, D Love III (US) 73 76, T Hamilton (US) 72 77, A Cabrera (Arg) 73 76, B Curtis (US) 76 73, D A Points (US) 72 77, J Bohn (US) 75 74. 150 K Oda (Japan) 74 76, G Ogilvy (Aus) 72 78, H Fujita (Japan) 75 75, K Perry (US) 71 79, J Leonard (US) 76 74, J Furyk (US) 77 73, P Goydos (US) 74 76, B Haas (US) 73 77, Y Ikeda (Japan) 72 78, K J Choi (S Kor) 76 74, P Harrington (Rep Ire) 73 77. 151 F Molinari (It) 74 77, A Hansen (Den) 77 74, Byeong-Hun An (S Kor) 72 79, S Hansen (Den) 72 79, J Hugo (SA) 76 75, T Petrovic (US) 71 80, P Lawrie 69 82, L Roberts (US) 73 78, P Archer 75 76, T Clark (SA) 71 80, S Lyle 75 76. 152 P Streeter 76 76, S Sonoda (Japan) 74 78, J Cunliffe (SA) 75 77, K Barnes (Aus) 75 77, D Fichardt (SA) 74 78, J Abbott 73 79, T Jaidee (Thai) 75 77. 153 K Miyamoto (Japan) 77 76, N Faldo 72 81, A Noren (Swe) 73 80, M Goggin (Aus) 74 79, V Dubuisson (Fr) 80 73. 154 J Kelly (US) 79 75, M F Haastrup (Den) 72 82, R Moore (US) 70 84, T Levet (Fr) 73 81. 155 J Dufner (US) 73 82, B Gay (US) 72 83, D Duval (US) 77 78, C Percy (Aus) 76 79, Jae-bum Park (S Kor) 76 79, J M Lara (Sp) 80 75, T Hatton 78 77, G McNeill (US) 78 77. 156 G Clark 79 77. 157 M Laird 74 83, G Day (US) 78 79. 159 E Porter (Aus) 81 78. 160 L Canter 81 79. 165 S Edwards (US) 79 86.

Today's tee-off times

07:25 Richard S Johnson

07:35 Thomas Aiken, Ian Poulter

07:45 Jason Day, Zach Johnson

07:55 Danny Chia, Scott Verplank

08:05 Colin Montgomerie, Hirofumi Miyase

08:15 Peter Senior, Edoardo Molinari

08:25 Heath Slocum, Steven Tiley

08:40 Toru Taniguchi, Darren Clarke

08:50 Vijay Singh, Y E Yang

09:00 Trevor Immelan, Andrew Coltart

09:10 John Senden, Simon Dyson

09:20 Kyung-tae Kim, Colm Moriarty

09:30 Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar

09:40 Tom Pernice Jnr, Ryo Ishikawa

09:50 Bradley Dredge, Alvaro Quiros

10:05 Marcel Siem, John Daly

10:15 Simon Khan, Marc Leishman

10:25 Zane Scotland, Steve Stricker

10:35 Hunter Mahan, Soren Kjeldsen

10:45 Graeme McDowell, Robert Allenby

10:55 Stewart Cink, Mark Calcavecchia

11:05 Tom Lehman, Fredrik Andersson Hed

11:15 Bo Van Pelt, Jeff Overton

11:30 Adam Scott, Kevin Na

11:40 Phil Mickelsen, Stephen Gallacher

11:50 Luke Donald, Steve Marino

12:00 Charl Schwatzel, Peter Hanson

12:10 Miguel Angel Jimenez, Ignacio Garrido

12:20 Tiger Woods, Lucas Glover

12:30 Camilo Villegas, Ross Fisher

12:40 Robert Rock, Jin Jeong

12:55 Robert Karlsson, Shane Lowry

13:05 Sergio Garcia, JB Holmes

13:15 Rory McIlroy, Ricky Barnes

13:25 Retief Goosen, Sean O'Hair

13:35 Nick Watney, Dustin Johnson

13:45 Lee Westwood, Alejandro Canizares

13:55 Henrik Stenson, Martin Kaymer

14:05 Paul Casey, Louis Oosthuizen

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