Kevin Kisner’s birdie blitz sets the tone on third day of Open
Kevin Kisner took advantage of favourable conditions with a birdie blitz at St Andrews as low scoring was the theme on the third day of the 150th Open Championship.
The world number 25, who made the halfway cut on the mark of level par, revelled in the sunshine with little wind to pick up six shots on the front nine.
His outward total of 30 was two short of the record lowest score for an Open front nine – set by Denis Durnian at Birkdale in 1983 – and one off Tony Jacklin’s St Andrews front-nine Open best in 1970.
Frustratingly for the 38-year-old he also left two good other opportunities marginally close but it was a remarkable display of consistently-good putting.
His luck ran out at the 351-yard 12th as he left his chip short at the wickedly-placed front pin position and it rolled back into a hollow from where he could not get up and bogeyed.
But the American regained that shot at the par-five 14th to restore him to seven under, six behind overnight leader Cameron Smith, while playing partner Trey Mullinax’s sixth birdie of the day at the same hole got him to six under.
There were other examples of what was possible on the Old Course as first man out Richard Mansell, playing with Scott Herald, one of the teaching professionals at St Andrews, had six birdies, an eagle and one bogey through 16 holes to get to five under.
South African Dean Burmester enjoyed a run of five birdies from the fifth to turn in 31, which got him to five under.
While the early starters were making hay, however, the leaders were likely to face slightly more testing conditions.
Smith and Cameron Young were last out at 3.55pm, just after Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland, and by then the breeze was due to pick up considerably.
The forecast predicted winds of 13mph, gusting up to 20mph, and Smith was expecting a tough test.
“I think being off late again it’s obviously going to be a bit firmer, more like the first day I would say, so I would say it’s going to be pretty brutal out there,” Smith said after posting a halfway total of 131 – a new record for an Open at St Andrews.
“I think there’s going to be a few more gnarly pins, and I think being smart out there is definitely going to be the key to staying at the top of the leaderboard.
“I’ve always been a pretty good player in tough conditions. I think most Aussies are, for some reason.
“I think we’re all brought up to be smart golfers, hit away from the pin sometimes and that really serves us well, I think, in big tournaments and when the conditions get tough.”
Players express feelings of shock and betrayal after PGA Tour’s LIV Golf merger
The new entity will be backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.
What does golf’s stunning merger mean for the sport?
The PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf have come together in a shock commercial deal.
Shock merger ‘more evidence of Saudi sportswashing’ claims Amnesty International
A legal battle between the tours has been brought to an end.
PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf agree shock merger
The agreement comes after a year of unprecedented disruption in the men’s professional game.
Rose Zhang claims title in play-off on professional debut
Win is first on LPGA Tour on pro debut since Beverly Hanson in 1951.
Viktor Hovland edges out Denny McCarthy in play-off to win Memorial Tournament
Rory McIlory had to settle for a tie for seventh.
Northern Ireland’s Tom McKibbin wins first DP World Tour title after fine finish
The 20-year-old finished two shots clear at the Porsche European Open in Hamburg.
Rory McIlroy soars to lead on third day of Ohio Memorial
The Northern Irishman finished tied with two other players on six under par.
David Law tames the Green Monster course to move into contention in Hamburg
The Scot fired an eagle and eight birdies in a seven-under-par 66, a nine-shot improvement on his opening 75.
Rory McIlroy bounces back to form in the Memorial Tournament
At four under par McIlroy was three shots off the early clubhouse lead.