Goosen in hunt as Lyle rolls back years - Golf - Sport - The Independent

Goosen in hunt as Lyle rolls back years

The round, which took him to the nine-under-par total of 207, re-ignited Goosen's bid to bury the memory of last month's US Open. At Pinehurst, a third win in the event in five years looked odds-on when he strode into a three-stroke lead with 18 holes to go. But then came a nightmare 81.

Ever since, Goosen has been insisting that it did not leave any lasting scars. Now he wants to prove it. "I started off nicely [yesterday] but instead of making birdie on the fifth [a par five] I took six," he said. "Walking off I said to Colin that I thought we were out of this now."

A hat-trick of birdies starting at the seventh and then another three birdies from the 14th changed all that. Goosen did bogey the Road Hole 17th, but driving the last green and two-putting was a nice way for him to finish.

"Hopefully I won't be too far back," he said. "I've not been hitting it as well as I know I can this year - my iron play has been terrible and I've been throwing in a bad round. Obviously the US Open last round was one of them, but I don't think there's anything to be learnt from that. It was just one of those days when everything went wrong. Even when I hit a good shot it was the wrong club. To win at St Andrews would be very special. It's not too often in a career you get to play here."

Compatriots Ernie Els, Gary Player and Bobby Locke are all past Open champions and Goosen added: "To win like them would be great." His best finish in 10 attempts is seventh, but that was last year and it was preceded by a 10th and an eighth. He has happy memories of the Old Course from Dunhill Cup victories in 1997 and 1998 with Els and David Frost. He played 10 matches those two years and won all 10.

Former Open champion Sandy Lyle enjoyed another excellent round yesterday to move up the leaderboard.

Lyle followed his second-round 67 with a 69 to leave him on 210, six under par and three behind the then clubhouse leader Goosen. Lyle, who won the Open at Sandwich in 1985, played the last three holes in birdie, par, birdie. "I'm playing a bit more consistently," he said.

Another former champion, five-time winner Tom Watson, fell victim to the Road Hole again.

Watson, who also designs courses, admitted it is impossible to recreate the 17th, where a blind tee shot requires a drive over the outbuildings of the Old Course hotel and the tightest line down the right takes you only yards from the windows of some of the rooms.

Watson bogeyed it yesterday, as he did on Thursday, but his most famous moment on the hole came at the 1984 Open when he was tied with Seve Ballesteros on the final day. Chasing a record-breaking sixth Open, he hit a two iron up against the wall over the road and had to settle for a bogey - just as Ballesteros was making birdie on the last to secure his second Open.

"You couldn't build a hole like that today without a lot of insurance. There are too many lawyers around," joked Watson. "You can't even build holes close together in case an enterprising attorney comes along."

Watson shot a two-under 70 yesterday to move to one under in the tournament, producing a stunning finish - the 17th apart - with birdies at the 14th, 15th, 16th and 18th. The 55-year-old American revealed he was not a fan of the Old Course when he first played it but over the years he had come to appreciate it more and he said his "local knowledge" had helped with his shot of the day at the 16th.

His seven-iron approach at the 16th rolled to within a foot of the pin and he said that he had known that the bank at the front of the hole would roll the ball down to the pin. "I didn't like this course at first but it has grown on me," he added.

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