GULLANE, Scotland (AP) — Tom Watson showed flashes of his vintage links mastery with a 1-under 70 Saturday at Muirfield to put himself within one shot of leader Stewart Ginn after three rounds of the Senior British Open.
A five-time British Open winner at Carnoustie, Turnberry, Royal Troon and Royal Birkdale and the famous Muirfield links, Watson is a contender to win the title for the third time. He also won in 2003 and ’05.
“It still burns a lot,” Watson said of his hunger for winning titles, especially on links courses. “I said many times the reason I’m out here is to compete.”
Ginn shot a 69 and stands at 3-under 210. Ginn, an Australian, bogeyed the first two holes but then didn’t drop a shot in tricky wind. Former British Open champion Mark O’Meara is three strokes off the lead after a 70.
“It’s not easy out there and you have to be patient and do the best you can,” said Ginn, who won the Senior Players in 2002 but is looking for his first tournament victory in Europe. I’ve had a few chances over the years but I haven’t nailed one on the European Tour.
“I had a good time in America with that (Senior Players championship). Those boys know how to play hard, so I feel this is a bit on our turf now. It’s hard to beat them over there.”
Nick Faldo, who is making his senior tour debut, slipped back for a share of 11th at 4 over after a 75. He was the co-leader after the first round.
Ginn, whose accurate approaches gave him birdie chances on most holes between the third and the 17th, is the only player to post a sub-70 round in two days. Watson has scored 70-71-70.
Watson began by firing his tee shot left into a fairway bunker for a bogey at the par-4 first, where only one player has birdied in the past two rounds. After that, he dropped only one more shot and made three birdies.
“I’m putting good again today. I’d like to make amends for what I did at the U.S. Senior Open,” said Watson, who led after 10 holes of the final round at Whistling Straits but had a 43 on the back nine to finish fourth.
O’Meara, who won the British Open in 1998 to go with his Masters triumph that same year, has been consistent this week, finishing each round no worse than 1 over in strong wind made worse by deep, snagging rough.
“I started with a double bogey and then hit back,” he said. “I kept it in play and my short game has been good and that has kept me in the tournament for sure.”
Denis Durnian became the second player this week to win crates of wine for acing a hole. The Englishman shot 84, but aced the par-3, 231-yard No. 4 and won a bottle of wine for each yard.
American John Chaffee aced the 13th on Thursday and won 191 bottles of wine.