McDowell looks ready for final push to stop Scott

Ulsterman trails by four but has Claret Jug in his sights

Royal Lytham

Pretty soon now we are going to have to start giving Graeme McDowell his due. That moment might well come today on the last green at Lytham. Do not discount it, despite the four-shot deficit to Adam Scott.

Typically cast as Rory McIlroy's golfing uncle, a chipper aide de camp to the genius from Holywood, McDowell is too readily overlooked in the golfing beauty parade. Yet it is he, the counter-punching hero of European golf, who is living the dream at this Open Championship, eyeball to eyeball with fate in the final pairing.

McDowell negotiates obstacles with a pragmatic finesse, and after a typically gritty 67 is once more the pre-eminent Brit, bursting from the Lytham peloton on seven under par to set up a thrilling finale with Scott. He must hope the wind, forecast to gust at 30mph, gets up and that Scott, who hit a steady 68 to extend his aggregate to 11 under par, is as generous as Dustin Johnson was at Pebble Beach two years ago, binning a three-shot advantage early in the final round to hand the initiative and ultimately the US Open to the Ulsterman.

McDowell showed his talent for the visceral scrap, holing the winning putt at the Ryder Cup later that year and last month at the US Open in San Francisco, sank a 12-footer at the penultimate hole to close within a shot of Webb Simpson and had a putt at the last to force a play-off.

The disappointment weighed heavy as he watched Simpson cradling the pot that was once his. The memory of it won't hinder today.

"Since I was a young boy I dreamed of coming down that last fairway on a Sunday afternoon, the last group in the Open Championship. And I can draw on my experiences at the Olympic Club a few weeks ago. So this is special for me, in the final group in back-to-back majors. I talked about it early in the week. I can't expect to win, but what I can expect to do is compete if I do the right things. To give myself a chance to be within three or four of the lead going into a Sunday afternoon and playing with the leader, that's really all I can ask. I'm right where I want to be," he said.

Brandt Snedeker started the day with a one-shot lead but was already betraying a hint of nerves on the range, warming up beside Woods. The power and influence of Woods could be seen immediately with Snedeker engineering his routines in such a way that would allow him a furtive glance in the direction of the era's greatest golfer. Woods looked at nothing except his ball, luxuriating almost in the degree to which he makes others twitch.

In the next bay along was Thorbjorn Olesen, watched by his father, who told how he brought his ten-year-old son to his first Open at St Andrews to watch his hero, Woods. The excitement of all was obvious, and not without charm. Dad revealed that the two had yet to make each other's acquaintance, which would load that first tee handshake with even greater significance for his son. Olesen is in his second year on tour and won for the first time in Sicily this year. The upward curve of the graph is clear, but this was a different order of challenge.

As the leaders went to the first the flags around Lytham were beginning to dance and the greens were showing signs of quickening. Too few of those who went out early were able to make a score. Bubba Watson flickered briefly taking him to four under from par before dropping back to two under. Zach Johnson also made up four shots and held on to reach to five under. Woods is not a brilliant stalker. His victories have come from the front. His tee shot at the first was at the pin but long, and ran through the back of the green, coming to rest on the apron. His pitch was short and the putt missed. A deficit that began at four had slipped to five. Two holes later it was six as Woods bogeyed a second time. Woods in retreat was not what this crowd had come to see.

The galleries around the first green and 2nd tee were rammed in. As Woods made his way up the second fairway the migration began, leaving a far better view of the leaders coming up the first. A view is one thing, a legend another. Woods rewarded the faithful with a 60-footer, sent snaking across the sixth green into the centre of the cup for his first birdie of the day. A second at the next took him back to six under par, where he finished in what ultimately proved a bumpy ride. Snedeker, who had not made a bogey in 40 holes, obliged at the fifth when he missed a tiddler after his approach fell short of the green. He had still to put his ball in any of the 206 bunkers. Over two days and five holes that meant he had avoided more than 450 traps. He put that to bed at the sixth and it hurt him again, coming out sideways to post a second successive bogey.

Snedeker rallied briefly at the seventh before scarring his card with successive bogeys to the turn. When he hooked his tee shot at the 11th a sense of foreboding followed him into the long grass. On slippery slopes like his few regain their feet. Scott drew strength from his foe's decline. Birdies at seven and eight took him four clear on 11 under par. A 20-foot par save on 11 underscored his effort, which he held to the close.

Snedeker recovered something from the day with a birdie at the last for a 73 and will partner Woods today. Olesen bounced his approach off the clubhouse wall to close with a bogey and a commendable 71.

Former Open champion Ernie Els feels "something special" could happen in tomorrow's final round. "For some reason I've got some belief this week," said the 1994 and 1997 US Open champion who has had an indifferent few years by his standards.

Leaderboard

GB and Irl unless stated, par 70

199

Adam Scott (Aus) 64 67 68

203

Graeme McDowell 67 69 67

Brandt Snedeker (US) 66 64 73

204

Tiger Woods (US) 67 67 70

205

Zach Johnson (US) 65 74 66

Ernie Els (SA) 67 70 68

206

Thorbjorn Olesen (Den) 69 66 71

207

Bill Haas (US) 71 68 68

Thomas Aiken (SA) 68 68 71

208

Mark Calcavecchia (US) 71 68 69

Louis Oosthuizen (SA) 72 68 68

Bubba Watson (US) 67 73 68

Matt Kuchar (US) 69 67 72

209

Dustin Johnson (US) 73 68 68

Kyle Stanley (US) 70 69 70

Luke Donald 70 68 71

Jason Dufner (US) 70 66 73

210

Nick Watney (US) 71 70 69

Vijay Singh (Fij) 70 72 68

Greg Chalmers (Aus) 71 68 71

Simon Khan 70 69 71

Anirban Lahiri (Ind) 68 72 70

James Morrison 68 70 72

Steven Alker (NZ) 69 69 72

211

Hunter Mahan (US) 70 71 70

Keegan Bradley (US) 71 72 68

Justin Hicks (US) 68 74 69

Alexander Noren (Swe) 71 71 69

Thomas Bjorn (Den) 70 69 72

Matthew Baldwin 69 73 69

Peter Hanson (Swe) 67 72 72

Steve Stricker (US) 67 71 73

212

Francesco Molinari (It) 69 72 71

Garth Mulroy (SA) 71 69 72

Dale Whitnell 71 69 72

Joost Luiten (Hol) 73 70 69

Jamie Donaldson 68 72 72

Harris English (US) 71 71 70

Padraig Harrington 70 72 70

Simon Dyson 72 67 73

Carl Petterson (Swe) 71 68 73

Paul Lawrie 65 71 76

Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
News
Jihadi John
newsMonikers like 'Jihadi John' make the grim sound glamorous
News
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003