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.
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.”
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