Dream start after wake-up call

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The Independent Online

Michael Brooks, an assistant professional at Royal St George's, had five birdies when he played as a marker alongside Australia's Peter Fowler in the day's first match. "I got a phone call at 11pm to say I was playing at nine in the morning," said Brooks, a former Scottish amateur champion and a Walker Cup team-mate of Justin Rose in 1997. "I got off to a great start. I burst it off the first tee, hit a nine-iron to 12 feet and holed the putt."

Tom Lehman, the 1996 Open champion, was the latest top player to fall foul of the stopwatch of the European Tour's chief referee, John Paramor. Lehman and Brian Davis, the second pair out, went round in three hours 42 minutes, but the American came within a second of being penalised one stroke on each of his last two tee shots. After finishing a hole ahead of the pair behind, Lehman said: "I reckon we were getting timed half the day, and it was a distraction."

Of the eight Open winners in the field, only Tiger Woods and Nick Faldo will look back on the third round with much satisfaction. The holder, Ernie Els, will be kicking himself for letting slip a promising start, but at five over he is still in the hunt. However, the other five - Tom Watson (73 for +8), Lehman (72 for +9), Greg Norman (74 for +9), John Daly (74 for +10) and Mark O'Meara (77 for +14) - are all now making up the numbers.

Woods and Norman got away with a breach of Tour regulations when they both wore collarless shirts yesterday. Rule 20 covers "Standard of Dress" and states: "Collarless, sleeveless, shirts of a transparent material/design or shirts worn outside trousers are not acceptable." They could have been fined £250 each but escaped punishment.

Phil Mickelson's quest for a first major looks like ending in failure after a 73 left him on six over. It was the usual mixed bag for the American left-hander, as his card contained one double-bogey, two bogeys, one eagle and one birdie.

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