Rory McIlroy in contention with stoic round at rain-sodden Open

Tiger Woods major British Open 2018

He had spent a third round in placid conditions by the North Sea making a steep, brisk climb. His presence creeping up the leaderboard nearly overshadowed the fact Spieth has positioned himself to become the first player to defend his Open Championship title since Padraig Harrington did it in 2007-08.

On a day that was flawless for low scoring, Woods let rip with his driver and tucked into the birdie buffet with his red-hot putter, briefly grabbing a share of the lead - something the American had not done at a major since the 2013 Masters.

He was tied for 29th, six strokes behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner.

"Saturday was about it taking shot by shot and I was really solid". Spieth hit an 8-iron through a gap in the trees for a birdie-birdie start to the back nine, and he dropped only one shot - not four like he did on day one - over the four closing holes at Carnoustie for a 67. The group of 39 includes a Xander (Schauffele) and a Zander (Lombard), the latter a 23-year-old South African with one previous major participation in his life, yet who briefly held a share of the lead in the second round before two bogeys, and said: "Yeah, it was pretty cool".

Two holes later, he found a pot bunker right of the par-3 16th and made bogey. "That was big for me, just to not finish on two bogeys in the last three holes, [after] playing as well as I did", he said.

It was there for only 20 minutes.

Woods, who has three Open wins in his 14 Majors, will be a big contender on Sunday as Carnoustie Golf Links was benign and amiable with no wind and ideal weather. "At least I know that I will be there with a chance", he surmised. "I've made a lot of progress over the year that's been kind of an off year, a building year", said Spieth, who is bogey-free over his last 36 holes.

Tiger Woods last won the U.S. Open in 2008 at Torrey Pines
Tiger Woods last won the U.S. Open in 2008 at Torrey Pines. Icon Sportswire Getty

As far from a traditional British look as you can get, Fowler appeared on the course with a very American handlebar mustache. 6 and 14) on Saturday.

Feeding off the electrifying atmosphere, Woods sent a laser-guided second shot to the 10th that left him a tap-in birdie, then at the 11th he rolled a 95-foot eagle putt to five feet and tapped home to gain another shot.

Disappointed but not down, Kisner removed his cap behind the green and scratched his head as if he wondered what hit him.

Americans have won the last five majors, but McIlroy has played well enough this week to believe he can claim a first major since 2014, when he did the double of Open and PGA Championship.

With him, the imaginations went off on a run, as when one reporter asked what a 15th major title might mean given all the strain and hubbub and surgery since the 14th, which was the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego.

"It certainly is possible, " Woods said.

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