David Drysdale takes route 66 up Open leaderboard

David Drysdale tees off in the third round of the 146th Open Championship at Royal Birkdale. Picture: Getty Images
David Drysdale tees off in the third round of the 146th Open Championship at Royal Birkdale. Picture: Getty Images
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David Drysdale fed off the crowd to be part of a low-scoring spree in near-perfect conditions for the third round of the 146th Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.

On a sunny day in Southport and with no real wind to contend with for the first time this week, the 42-year-old Scot took route 66 to move up the leaderboard.

The six-birdie salvo moved Drysdale, who had just scraped into the final two rounds on five-over, into a tie for 25th at the time he finished.

“The support I got today was incredible,” said the Cockburnspath man afterwards. “The grandstand at the first was full at half past eight, an hour before the first game.

“All the grandstands are full and they are seven or eight deep at the ropes. You feed off that. “You’re focused most of the time, but I made some nice putts and the roar on number seven when I made my birdie was the loudest I’ve ever heard.

“These are the things you take away with you.”

Drysdale, who also made the cut on his only other appearance in the event at Turnberry in 2009, said he’d felt nervous starting out in one of the early groups on the third day.

“It’s weird that I was nervous on the first tee today as I’ve not been nervous at all,” he admitted. “It’s just when my name is announced on that tee! When I walk out I’m fine and then for those 30 seconds before you peg it up I’m a bit nervous. It’s a bit weird.”

He bogeyed the first after finding an awkward spot on a bank with his approach but was soon into his stride following a first birdie of the day at the par-4 fifth.

A 2 at the short seventh was followed by another birdie at the ninth to take him out in two-under 32 in the company of South African Brandon Stone.

Drysdale, who secured his spot here by closing with a course-record 63 in the Irish Open at Portstewart a fortnight ago, then picked up shots at the 13th, 15th and 17th, grazing the hole with an eagle attempt from 15 at the latter.

From a hanging lie, he was unble to find the green with his approach at the last and finished with a bogey but, nonetheless, it was a great day’s work.

“In between my bogey at the first and the one to finish, I played a lot of good golf and made a lot of good chances. So I’m pretty happy,” declared Drysdale.

“I was out there in beautiful, unbelievable conditions. I know it was beautiful on Tuesday and Wednesday but we still had 10-15mph winds then.

“But today I would expect some low scores from the leaders later on.”

Having picked up a career-best cheque for just over £210,000 for finishing fourth in Ireland, Drysdale has now set up the chance for another big pay-day here.

“I’m proud of myself,” he said of his efforts so far. “I’m maybe half-lucky to even be here for the weekend but pleased that weather stuck around on Friday afternoon to get me in.

“I was annoyed at the time with my finish as I dropped two in the last three and I was a bit peeved at the time.

“But I knew if the bad weather hung about I’d have a great chance of making it in.

“I just want to enjoy tomorrow and see what happens. I’ve been playing some decent stuff of late and I’ll try do the same things and get the ball to the hole.”

Caddying for Drysdale this week, having done a great job on the bag for him this season, is his wife, Vicky.

“Vicky is loving it, too,” he reported. “She’s been having a great time and gives me the boot up the behind that I need.

“She’s so positive – the opposite of me! There’s been no matrimonial strife as yet. Those are the only five hours when I’m the boss!”

Drysdale’s 66 was matched by local hero Tommy Fleetwood, as well as Australian Marc Leishman, who lost out to Zach Johnson in a play-off at St Andrews two years ago.

But they all took a shot more than two other Australians, Jason Day and Scott Hend, as well as South African Shaun Norris, who was out in the first group with a marker.