The Open: Early starters improve positions

Sergio Garcia of Spain. Picture: Getty

Sergio Garcia of Spain. Picture: Getty

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OVERCAST conditions today greeted the early starters as the third round of the Open Championship got underway at Muirfield.

The first group out showed what might be possible for those chasing the leaders, Shingo Katayama carding a 69 and Richard Sterne a 68 to improve to six and five over respectively.

Sergio Garcia had also picked up two birdies in his first six holes to move to four over, but Thomas Bjorn’s early charge courtesy of birdies at the first and third was halted with a double-bogey five at the fourth.

Defending champion Ernie Els, who described the 14th and 15th greens as “getting out of hand” yesterday, was level par for his round after nine holes and six over for the tournament.

Only nine players reached halfway under par, with the cut falling at eight over and seeing 1999 champion Paul Lawrie make the weekend after rounds of 81 and 69, while 2004 winner Todd Hamilton also survived after the same scores in the opposite order.

Miguel Angel Jimenez held the lead on three under par, the 49-year-old looking to become the oldest ever winner of a major championship just seven months after breaking his leg in a skiing accident.

The Rioja-loving Spaniard - surely a perfect winner of the Claret Jug - was only one shot ahead of the chasing pack however, with playing partner Henrik Stenson, England’s Lee Westwood, world number one Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson two under.

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