The unquestioned darling of this British Open has been Marcel Siem.
The 41-year-old German — who until this week hadn’t played in a major championship since 2015 and only got into this Open a week ago after he won a Challenge Tour event — has been smiling and fist-pumping his way around Royal St. George’s as he worked his way into contention entering the weekend at 6-under with a pair of 67s.
Siem’s play and his attitude had him dreaming big entering Saturday’s third round. But his dream of hoisting the Claret Jug died on the 14th hole, when he hit his tee shot out of bounds and took a triple-bogey 8. He rallied after that with birdies on 16 and 18 to get to even-par for the day and remain at 6-under, six shots out of the lead held by Louis Oosthuizen.
“I’m very, very proud of myself that I was able to forget about it, and I’m coming in with two birdies, I’m very happy with that,’’ Siem said. “I’m not quite sure if I missed a fairway at all today before that [miss on 14]. I just tried to squeeze a 2-iron down there. [I] didn’t even think about out of bounds. Tried to aim left of the bridge, hit a low chaser down there, hit it on the heel, and it cut it so much I couldn’t believe it. It’s very frustrating that that happened.’’
Siem called this week “the best golf I’ve ever played in such an important tournament.’’
“I’m proud of myself,’’ he said. “I will give everything [Sunday] to get a good result this week.’’
The R&A tournament staff set the course up at its most difficult on Saturday, a response to record-setting low scores on Friday. The tees were maxed out to as long as the course can play, and the pins were tucked in some places that rattled some players.
“The R&A definitely said, ‘We’re not going to let low scores today,’ ’’ leader Louis Oosthuizen said. “There were some really questionable pins out there, but it was [same] for everyone. I made some very bad swings in middle of the round and sort of steadied the ship.’’
Oosthuizen is the 12th player since 2000 to lead a major in the first three rounds, with eight of the previous 11 going on to win.
Just two players in men’s golf history have won multiple majors before the age of 25 when trailing entering the final round — Jack Nicklaus and Bobby Jones. Collin Morikawa, who shot a final-round 64 to come back and win the 2020 PGA Championship, can join that list Sunday. He trails Oosthuizen by one shot.
Since 1900, 94 percent of British Open champions were within four shots entering the final round. Each of the past 31 major winners were within four shots through 54 holes.
After a blustery first couple days at this Open, with the criticism of his club manufacturer, its fiery response and some fan heckling, it looks like Bryson DeChambeau is bowing out of this week quietly. He shot a 2-over 72 on Saturday and is 3-over for the tournament, miles from contention.
DeChambeau’s social media “pal,” Brooks Koepka, played himself out of contention with a 2-over 72 Saturday to fall to 3-under. Dustin Johnson, the world No. 1, shot 73 to fall to 4-under.
There were a number of low scores posted by players in the early rounds Saturday, led by Robert McIntyre’s 5-under65, the low round of the day. Kevin Streelman and Jason Kokrak posted 66s, and Matthew Fitzpatrick had a 67.
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