The Open: Claret Jug hopefuls primed for final-day battle

By Sports Desk July 18, 2021

Louis Oosthuizen will tee off his final round at The Open on Sunday with a one-shot lead over playing partner Collin Morikawa.

The 2010 winner, who has finished as runner-up six times in majors, is eyeing a wire-to-wire victory at Royal St George's, where he starts his fourth round at 14:35 local time at 12 under.

American Morikawa also has a second major in his sights, having claimed the 2020 US PGA Championship.

Jordan Spieth is firmly in the mix, the three-time major winner and 2017 Champion Golfer of the Year at nine under, while pre-tournament favourite Jon Rahm is two strokes further back.

 

Corey Conners and Scottie Scheffler are each on eight under and hoping to earn maiden major triumphs.

Glorious weather means the course is set fair for low scoring for anyone who can summon the courage and accuracy to take on some tough pin positions at the Kent links.

There was promise in the early scores coming in, with American trio Rickie Fowler, Xander Schauffele and Bryson DeChambeau all shooting 65.

If any of the leading trio should go that low, it will rule out the chasing pack and reduce the contenders down to the final couple of groups on course.

That would mean Brooks Koepka's surge up the leaderboard would still leave him short, the four-time major winner having made the turn in 31.

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  • Henley leads by two shots as Matsuyama surges up leaderboard Henley leads by two shots as Matsuyama surges up leaderboard

    Russell Henley remains in the lead ahead of the final day of the Sony Open in Hawaii but 2021 Masters Championship winner Hideki Matsuyama surged into contention on Saturday.

    Henley carded a three-under-round of 67 to maintain his lead after being three strokes ahead at the halfway mark at the Waialae Country Club.

    Japanese 29-year-old Matsuyama, though, moved up the leaderboard into second spot, two shots behind Henley, with a seven-under-63 to be 16 under overall.

    Henley leads at 18 under, with Matsuyama 16 under, before four players are tied at 14 under in third in Adam Svensson, Seamus Power, Matt Kuchar and Haotong Li.

    The American, who won the Sony Open in 2013, had two bogeys and five birdies in his round, including a 16-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole to buffer his lead after Matsuyama made his move earlier in the day.

    Matsuyama, who carded rounds of 66 and 65 on the first two days, improved with a day-three 63 headlined by four birdies in his final seven holes.

    Svensson and Power both hit five-under-rounds of 65 to remain in contention, while Kuchar and Li are close but carded rounds of three-under and two-under to fail to close on Henley.

  • Former champion Henley hits two eagles to claim three-stroke lead at Sony Open Former champion Henley hits two eagles to claim three-stroke lead at Sony Open

    American Russell Henley holds a three-stroke lead at the halfway mark of the Sony Open in Hawaii after a seven-under-63 on Friday.

    Henley, who won the Sony Open in 2013, carded an eight-under-62 on the opening day and backed that up to be 15-under and three shots ahead of second-placed Haotong Li.

    Li along with third-placed Matt Kuchar and equal fourth Chris Kirk all carded rounds of five-under-65.

    Kirk is one of 10 players tied for fourth alongside Seamus Power, Stewart Cink, Corey Conners, Adam Svensson, Keita Nakajima, Davis Riley, Dylan Wu, Brandt Snedeker, Payton Kizzire and 2021 Masters winner Hideki Matsuyama.

    Henley's seven-under-63 was a round-best alongside Cink and Charles Howell III who both surged up the leaderboard.

    The 32-year-old American had an even card on the second round before holing a bunker shot for eagle on the 18th hole, his ninth hole of the day.

    Henley came home strong with four birdies and an eagle in his final six holes, including a 29-foot eagle putt. He has three PGA Tour titles across his career, the last being in 2017.

    Veteran Jim Furyk dropped well off the pace after his fast start, with a two-over-round of 72 leaving him six under at halfway, while day one leader Kevin Na slipped to eight under after a round of one-over-71.

  • Jim Furyk in Sony Open contention after hole-in-one Jim Furyk in Sony Open contention after hole-in-one

    Jim Furyk rolled back the years with a hole-in-one at the Sony Open to finish the opening round in Hawaii one shot behind leader and defending champion Kevin Na.

    The 51-year-old, who has 17 PGA Tour victories to his name, sunk the perfect shot on the par-three 17th on his way to finishing eight under on Thursday.

    Furyk was hampered by a slow start at Wai'alae Country Club with a bogey on the opening hole, though that proved to be the American's only dropped shot in a round of 62.

    That makes Furyk the oldest player to shoot 62 or better on the PGA Tour since 1983 as he looks to win the tournament for a second time, 26 years on from his previous triumph.

    "I'm trying to get ready for this year. I want to be competitive this week," said Furyk, who made the sixth hole-in-one of his career and first since 2011.

    "I want to compete and put myself in position, in the hunt, and also want to get a feel for where my game is and what I want to work on for the year."

    Furyk will resume day two level with compatriot Russell Henley and a stroke behind blemish-free Na, who is aiming to defend the crown he won last year.

    Na was on course for a sub-60 round, but three good birdie chances passed him by and he now has seven challengers within two shots of his lead.

    The South Korean settled for 61 to tie his career-low round on the PGA Tour. He leads the way for the most rounds-of-62 or better since such data was first recorded in 1983 (10).

    Na, Furyk and Henley are three of six past Sony Open winners in the top 10 after day one, along with Matt Kuchar, Patton Kizzire (both six under) and Ryan Palmer (seven under).

    Elsewhere, Cameron Smith could not build on his record-breaking win at last week's Sentry Tournament of Champions as a couple of bogeys left him three-under par in a tie for 40th.

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