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Rediff.com  » Sports » Westwood and Woods in gripping battle at Open, Kapur disappoints

Westwood and Woods in gripping battle at Open, Kapur disappoints

Last updated on: July 20, 2013 23:17 IST

Lee Westwood and Tiger Woods slugged it out at the British Open as the leadership battle ebbed and flowed in the third round over the bumps and hollows of Muirfield on Saturday.

An eagle and a birdie sent Briton Westwood, bidding for a first major triumph at the 62nd time of asking, three shots clear after seven holes but Woods reeled him in to share the lead at two under par after 11.

India's Shiv Kapur, who briefly led The Open after a sensational 30 on the front nine on Thursday, carded a disappointing 12-over-par 83. The Indian got off to a poor start when he was eight-over after six holes before adding four other bogeys on his way home for 15-over-par 228.

Overnight leader Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain, unmistakeable with his frizzy hair and tartan trousers, drifted away after four bogeys in his first eight holes as the rock-hard fairways, tricky bunkers and treacherous greens took their toll.

Nine players began the day under par but as the third round reached its climax only four remained in the red.

Lee WestwoodAmerican Hunter Mahan fired a three-under-par 68 to move to one-under and Jimenez re-grouped to stay in contention.

Woods, looking to win a 15th major five years after his 14th, got straight down to business with a birdie at the second to briefly move to the top of the leaderboard, only to fritter away a shot at the par-three fourth.

Westwood, cheered on by the packed galleries besides the Firth of Forth, then rose to the challenge in spectacular style.

The 40-year-old played the long par-five fifth to perfection, reaching the green with two drivers before curling in a 25-foot eagle putt to a crescendo of roars that echoed across the parched expanse of the Muirfield course.

Woods failed with a birdie attempt to leave Westwood one clear on three-under and the Briton stretched his lead to three shots when he birdied the seventh and Woods bogeyed.

Just as he appeared to have taken a stranglehold, however, Westwood faltered and Woods took his chance.

At the par-four eighth, Westwood's so-far reliable putter failed him as he made a bogey.

His lead did not even last until halfway round as Westwood found a bunker off the tee at the par-five ninth and he ended up squirting an eight-foot par putt wide.

World number one Woods pounced, flopping out exquisitely from a green-side bunker and converting his birdie chance.

TENSION MOUNTED

They parred the next four holes as the tension mounted.

With several contenders falling by the wayside, Mahan, who began the day two over, moved through the field thanks to five birdies in clinical round.

A burst of three consecutive birdies propelled Japan's Hideki Matsuyama into the mix as he reached one under par on the 12th hole but the 21-year-old slipped back and ended with a 72 which included a one-stroke time penalty.

American Phil Mickelson will start Sunday still dreaming of a first Open title, although three bogeys in his last six holes kept him back on two over after a 72.

He is one ahead of Spain's Sergio Garcia who made hay in the morning with a 68 to move through the field.

Scotland's Martin Laird went the other way.

He began the day at one under and with a genuine title chance but he made a horrendous nine at the par-four third where he twice took drops in the waist-high rough.

Most of the early starters were too far back to seriously threaten the leaders but Garcia will believe that anything is possible on the final day, such has been the brutal nature of the Muirfield course this week.

"Obviously I needed to do something like that today to have a slight chance," said Garcia, who along with playing partner Padraig Harrington, was put on the clock.

Image: Lee Westwood

Photograph: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

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