Vintage Tiger Woods boosts Open hopes with terrific round

Woods shot a 66 on Saturday, and briefly saw his name sit atop the leaderboard following six birdies in his first 14 holes.

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The defending champion never looked back after making a “dream start” en route to a six-under-par 65 for a three-way tie with Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner at Carnoustie.

He scrambled for par at the tough 18th hole at Carnoustie, after his tee shot landed on the bank of the Barry Burn and bounced right into the thick rough. He was beyond pleased.

While Spieth’s haircut initially drew attention – although his barber somehow managed not to recognise him – his brilliant golf and that of Woods was what really captured the attention on a thrilling third day at Carnoustie. “But I’m right there”.

Spieth will have four major titles before his 25th birthday if he wins on Sunday.

“It certainly is possible, ” he said.

“It’s been a few years since I’ve felt like this”, Woods said.

He says he has a special affinity with the challenge of playing links golf and believes if he is to add to his 14 majors it is probably going to be The Open as it suits ageing players – Tom Watson and Greg Norman both came close when in their 50’s.

It could also lead to early players leapfrogging over the group of players – and there are seven in all – tied with Woods for sixth place and making it even more hard to move up the leaderboard. “It’s OK, a lot better than I thought walking up”, he told his caddie, Michael Greller, when he got there and Spieth not only got a good contact on it with an iron and using “a baseball swing” as he described it, his shot found the middle of the green to set up another birdie chance from 35 feet.

Kisner will go out with another American, Kevin Chappell, who is seven-under, in the penultimate pairing of the day at 2:35pm (1335 GMT), before Spieth and Schauffele tee off 10 minutes later.

“I’m going to have to have an wonderful round to get myself in it”, he said. “They won’t be too far out of reach”.

He was the No. 1 player in the world then, and quickly followed the Open with a win at the PGA Championship the next month. Don’t think ending that drought isn’t on his mind.

Moments later, Woods began his charge to get into contention at a major for the first time in five years.

Justin Rose, who made the cut on the number with a birdie on his final hole, matched the Carnoustie record for the Open with a 64. “I’m not getting ahead of myself, I’m just in a good position”.

“That was good, ” he said again.

“Prepare the way I normally do and go out and play and see what happens”. “I feel comfortable giving it the extra oomph now”.

“I think I need more feel in my putting”.

The three-time British Open champion is searching for his first win of the year and his first major championship since winning the U.S. Open in 2008.

“It would be, as you said, better on Sunday”, Woods said in response to a question afterward.

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“I wouldn’t put it past him”, Norris said. That was above my normal level, and then you sort of – you go back down, and then you build yourself back up again.

England's Justin Rose during the third round REUTERS  Andrew Yate