Golf

British Open: Amateur Paul Dunne soars to top of leaderboard

Jordan Spieth was one shot out of the lead and one round away from the third leg of the Grand Slam. Not since Bobby Jones has an amateur won the British Open, and then along came Paul Dunne with a bogey-free performance Sunday at St. Andrews that gave him a share of the lead.

Spieth 1 back in bid for 3rd straight major

Ireland’s Paul Dunne plays from the tenth tee during the third round at the British Open at the Old Course, St. Andrews, Scotland on Sunday. (Jon Super/The Associated Press)

Jordan Spieth was one shot out of the lead and one round away from the third leg of the Grand Slam. Not since Bobby Jones has an amateur won the British Open, and then along came Paul Dunne with a bogey-free performance Sunday at St. Andrews that gave him a share of the lead.

When a shootout at St. Andrews ended Sunday, 14 players were separated by three shots. Half of them were major champions.

Even for a place packed with centuries of history, this British Open offered endless possibilities.

Dunne, the 22-year-old from Ireland, was impervious to everything around him and soaked up a day he won't soon forget in his round of 6-under 66. Louis Oosthuizen, the last player to lift the claret jug on the Old Course in 2010, made three birdies over his last five holes for a 67. Jason Day had a share of the 54-hole lead for the second straight major with a 67, and this time he doesn't have to worry about vertigo symptoms he dealt with at the U.S. Open. They were each at 12-under 204.

"It's surreal I'm leading the Open, but I can easily believe that I shot the three scores that I shot," Dunne said. "If we were playing an amateur event here, I wouldn't be too surprised by the scores I shot. It's just lucky that it happens to be in the biggest event in the world.

"Hopefully, I can do it again tomorrow," he said. "But whether I do or not, I'll survive either way."

Canada's Graham DeLaet of Weyburn, Sask., had his best round so far at the British Open. He had five birdies to finish at 4-under 68. He'll enter the fourth round tied for 45th at 4-under.

Such an opportunity might not come around again for Spieth. Only three other players won the first two legs of the Grand Slam since the modern version began in 1960. Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods only got one shot at it, and none ever started the final round of the British Open so close to the lead.

And so it was Spieth, a 21-year-old Texan with an uncanny sense of occasion, who brought the gray, old town to life in a mixture of sunshine and rain.

After punching his golf bag in frustration at the turn, he ran off three straight birdies on the back nine and kept alive his hopes of becoming the first player to sweep the four professional majors in one year. He finished with a 66.

Ben Hogan in 1953 was the only other player to win the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open in the same year.

"I'm going to play to win," Spieth said. "I'm not playing for a place. I don't want to place third tomorrow. I want to win. And so I'm going to play my game — to stay in the mix if it's not all there at the beginning, and if it is, I'm going to continue to play that way to try and get out in front. It's going to be hard."

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