CARNOUSTIE, Scotland (REUTERS) - Tiger Woods turned back the clock and briefly tied for the lead en route to a five-under-par 66 as players plundered Carnoustie in perfect conditions in the third round of the British Open on Saturday (July 22).
Woods posted a five-under 208 total that left him three strokes behind American on-course leader Kevin Kisner, who had completed six holes.
In scenes reminiscent of those in the prime of his career, waves of excitement rippled through the massive gallery as 14-times major champion Woods charged up the leaderboard.
Throwing caution aside after starting the day six strokes behind, Woods wielded his driver aggressively and was rewarded with six birdies in the first 14 holes.
A tap-in at the par-five 14th lifted him to the top of a major championship leaderboard for the first time since the second round at the 2013 Masters.
But no sooner had he done so than his six-iron to the par-three 16th trickled off the side of the green, from where he could not avoid dropping his first and only shot of the day.
He got a lucky break at the last, where his pulled tee shot came within inches of landing in the Barry Burn.
His ball stayed dry but with 246 yards left to the hole he decided to lay up from the rough before punching a 100-yard wedge to three feet and saved par.
The three-times Open champion walked off to a rousing reception from the gallery, before signing for his lowest score in 11 sorties around Carnoustie at the Open.
The 42-year-old, on the comeback trail after a successful spinal fusion last year, has not won a major since 2008.
Earlier, Justin Rose set the tone with the lowest score in Carnoustie’s British Open history, a flawless 64.
A day after making the cut with nothing to spare thanks to a birdie at the 36th hole, Rose made the most of his reprieve on a serenely calm morning on the east coast of Scotland.
The world number three capped a flawless performance with birdies at the final two holes, running in a 12-footer at the last for the lowest round of the championship.
“It was a beautiful morning to play golf. The greens were somewhat receptive, and the pins weren’t as tough as maybe the first couple of days,” Rose said after posting a four-under 209 total.
“Momentum-wise, birdie-ing the very first hole, picking up where I left off last night, got me well into the round early,” Rose said after his best major championship score.
“The first couple of days were hard work and frustrating. The birdie on 18 last night freed me up and I’m just very happy to be (here).
“I kept it together mentally, concentrated well, felt a bit more in control with my game and my swing, too. To keep a clean sheet on this course obviously leads to great stuff.” Rose’s round matched the 64 shot by American Steve Stricker in the third round here in 2007, while Australian Richard Green had the same score in the final round back when the Open was last played at Carnoustie.