IRELAND’S Paul Dunne surged into contention to become the Open’s first amateur winner for 85 years yesterday at St Andrews, but a host of big names, including Jordan Spieth, remain within striking distance heading into the tournament’s rain-delayed climax.
Dunne, 22, shot a 66 to finish his third round on 12 under par and share the lead with Louis Oostuizen, who lifted the Claret Jug on the Open’s last visit to the Old Course in 2010, and perennial Major nearly man Jason Day. Masters and US Open champion Spieth, bidding to clinch the third leg of a grand slam, was just a shot adrift on 11 under after his 66, and two-time winner Padraig Harrington’s 65 left him on 10 under.
English hopes Justin Rose and Danny Willett were among nine men on nine under par, while, in an indication of the drama expected today, 25 players lie within five shots of the top. Overnight leader Dustin Johnson, who carded a 75 to fall to seven under, was not one of them.
Dunne missed the cut at last year’s Open, his only other Major appearance, but took the outright lead yesterday when he birdied the par-four 10th and insisted he was not feeling the pressure of topping the leaderboard.
“I wasn’t aware about the positions until I got to 10. I tried to play each hole as it was,” he said.
“The golf ball just does what you tell it to, it’s just there were a lot more cameras and people watching. I felt really comfortable, I had so much support, it felt like I was at home. Hopefully the same tomorrow.”
South African Oostuizen, who has not added to his Major tally since romping to a seven-stroke victory at St Andrews five years ago, holed seven birdies and two bogeys in a 67 matched by Australian Day, who saw his US Open challenge dented by a bout of vertigo last month and has finished second at three other Majors.
Spieth, 21, played down talk of becoming only the second man to win the year’s first three Majors after bouncing back from a weather-hit second round with an ominous 66.
“I’m very pleased to be more than halfway there and so close to the top,” said the American, who would overtake injured world No1 Rory McIlroy with victory. “I’ll avoid thinking about winning three in a row and I’m just happy that I’m playing so well.”
Harrington, who won successive Opens in 2007 and 2008, stormed into contention with a bogey-free 65 – a score bettered yesterday only by Australian Marc Leishman, a shot further back on nine under.
“I always wanted to shoot 65 on Sunday at an Open. Unfortunately there’s another round to go,” the Irishman, 43, said. “It’s fantastic to see an amateur at the top. Nice guy and let’s hope he keeps going. If it is not me let’s hope it is him.”
-12 Dunne, Day, Oosthuizen
-9 Leishman, Neibrugge, Rose, Goosen, Streb, Scott, Z Johnson, Willett
-8 Pepperell, Schwartzel, Bowditch