Five shots separate top 25 at British Open

Posted: Sunday, July 22, 2001

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England -- Colin Montgomerie nearly split open the seat of his pants. Tiger Woods fell apart at the seams.

There were double bogeys and a double eagle, spectacular shots and horrific crashes. Ten players claimed a share of the lead at one point Saturday in the third round of a British Open that got more bizarre by the minute.

Too bad Jean Van de Velde missed the cut. He would've fit right in.

After the cheers turned to groans and the gallery filtered out of Royal Lytham & St. Annes to sort out the mess, David Duval was one of four guys at the top of the biggest 54-hole logjam at a major championship in 23 years.

And he wasn't even around, having already signed for a 6-under 65 that he thought would get him close to the lead -- not holding a share of it.

''I want to take that trophy home tomorrow,'' Duval said.

Get in line.

Joining him at 6-under 207 were a pair of former Masters champions, Bernhard Langer and Ian Woosnam, who had 67s and got out of harm's way.

Filling out the foursome was Alex Cejka, who took the most unusual route. He made only three pars on his last 14 holes, led by as many as two shots and then crumbled at the end with bogeys on three of his last four holes.

Montgomerie, Jesper Parnevik and Nick Price were among nine players one stroke out of the lead. Right behind were a half-dozen others, including U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen, two-time U.S. Open champion Ernie Els and Sergio Garcia.

All of a sudden, the Open championship is just that: Open.

''It's anybody's Open,'' said Montgomerie, thankful he could include himself in that mix after a 73.

It turned that way when none of the top six players at the start of the day managed to break par. The result is a championship in which 28 players are within five shots of the lead.

''It's going to be an exciting day,'' Cejka said.

It certainly was for Woods.

Poised to get into contention, Woods took a detour into the knee-high rough, prickly gorse bushes and next to a hospitality tent on his way to a 73 that figured to end his chances of retaining the claret jug.

Or maybe not. At 1-under 212, he was among those 28 players.

''Hopefully, tomorrow I can post a good number and see what happens,'' he said to tournament officials, declining to speak to reporters.

Montgomerie, who took double bogey on one of the easiest holes on the course, made five pars on the tough closing stretch for a 73 that left him in a tie for second with a long list of suspects.

They included Parnevik, Pierre Fulke, Darren Clarke and Joe Ogilvie. All were in the lead at one point before dropping shots, which wasn't difficult to do when the wind kicked up in the final two hours of play.

The other co-leader late in the day was Greg Owen, who made the second double-eagle at Royal Lytham this week -- then gave it back with bogeys on the last three holes.

The engraver who etches the champion's name onto the claret jug won't be able to get an early start Sunday.

The last time there was a four-way tie for the lead after the third round of a major was at St. Andrews in the 1978 British Open, featuring Jack Nicklaus, Peter Oosterhuis, Isao Aoki and Ben Crenshaw. Nicklaus went on to win by two strokes.

So tight was the leaderboard that with one swing -- Owen's double eagle from 240 yards on the par-5 11th hole -- he went from a tie for 15th to second place.

Duval had an even greater turnaround.

He started Saturday with 34 players in front of him and finished as a 54-hole leader for the first time in a major championship.

Indeed, opportunity knocks at strange hours.

Duval had his chances at the Masters this year until missing birdie putts of 12 and 5 feet on the final two holes, finishing two strokes behind Woods. He was in the hunt again at Southern Hills until he shot 71 in the third round to fall five strokes behind, then closed with a 74 in the U.S. Open.

''I got myself back in it today and that's where I want to be,'' Duval said, not knowing at the time how good his position would be. ''I have been there and have proven I can play under those conditions. I know I have it in me.''

What it takes remains to be seen.

Montgomerie is willing to wager it will take a 65 to hold the silver trophy, the score he posted in the first round.

''If I do that tomorrow, I have every chance of winning,'' he said.

Not if he runs into the problems he experienced on No. 13.

His tee shot barely rolled into the left edge of a pot bunker and left him no choice but to try to blast it out sideways. He planted his left foot in the sand with his right leg onto the grass, about hip-high, nearly causing his trousers to rip.

''That wouldn't have been the most embarrassing thing I have ever done,'' he said.

There was plenty of embarrassment to go around.

Montgomerie moved the ball from the left side to the right side of the bunker, finally got out, and took double bogey.

Parnevik used his putter four times to take double bogey on No. 8, answered with four straight birdies to take the lead, then gave it back with a double bogey on No. 17 when he twice hit into the hay until he decided to chop out sideways to the short grass.

And then there was Woods.

Despite a strong start that got his name on the board -- an intimidating sight at a major championship -- he gave it all back with a double bogey on the par-5 seventh in which he played three shots from the same location (one was a provisional that didn't count).

Another drive went under the grandstand at No. 16. And his final drive went over the gallery and into the bushes. At least he was able to take a one-stroke drop near the hospitality tent and suffer only a bogey.

Woods went straight to the practice range after his round.

''I wouldn't be surprised if he lays a good one down tomorrow,'' said Mark O'Meara, his good friend and playing partner Saturday.

Where that will lead is anyone's guess.

''It's going to be something special,'' Parnevik said. ''I promise you that.''

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