Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A SHOT AT HISTORY; Dunne's Attempt to Become the Open's First Amateur Champion in 85 Years and Spieth's Battle to Stay on Course for a Grand Slam Are among the Major Issues at the Home of Golf

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A SHOT AT HISTORY; Dunne's Attempt to Become the Open's First Amateur Champion in 85 Years and Spieth's Battle to Stay on Course for a Grand Slam Are among the Major Issues at the Home of Golf

Article excerpt

Byline: Paul Mahoney at St Andrews

THE 144th Open Championship is set up for an historic final round here today. Play closed last night with 11 men within just three shots of the lead held jointly by 22-year-old amateur Paul Dunne, Australian Jason Day and South African Louis Oosthuizen, the champion when the Open was last here in 2010.

Dunne is the first amateur to take a lead into the final round since Bobby Jones in his grand slam year of 1930. Jordan Spieth, the 21-year-old Masters and US Open champion, is 11 under par, one shot behind the leaders.

His tilt at making history and emulating Jones is on.

"Only one person has ever done it before, that opportunity very rarely comes around, and I'd like to have a chance," Spieth said after his third round six-under-par 66. "If it adds more pressure, it just makes me feel like this is something that's a little more special. If I have a chance coming down the stretch, if it creeps in, I'll embrace it. I'm going to play to win."

Dunne could not quite believe his lofty position on the leaderboard. "It's surreal. I'm leading the Open," he said. "If we were playing an amateur event here, I wouldn't be too surprised by the scores I shot," he said. "It's just lucky that it happens to be in the biggest event in the world."

Dunne matched the six-under-par score of world No2 Spieth. But can the Irishman win? "I don't see why not," he said. "I'm well capable of shooting the scores that I need to win if everyone else doesn't play their best. I'm not really going to think about winning or where I'm going to finish until the last few holes," he said.

Dunne's hero Padraig Harrington, the two-time Open champion, is two shots adrift at 10 under while the stellar cast in the chasing pack at nine under includes Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose, Retief Goosen, Adam Scott, Zach Johnson and Sheffield's Danny Willett. "I've always looked up to Padraig," said Dunne. "I remember watching him win the Open at Carnoustie in 2007 and 2008 at Birkdale. I've watched those videos over and over again."

Harrington was full of praise for the amateur. "It is phenomenal," he said. "Hopefully, he continues to play great. The final round will be all about me when I'm on the golf course in my own game but If I don't win, I hope he does."

Harrington has been out of form and plummeting down the rankings -- he ended last year at No265 in the world -- but has recently showed flashes that he is on the comeback trail at the age of 43. "I hope I'll peak again but it's more important to be consistent, well, not even consistent, who cares about consistent?" said the world No102. "It's more important to be erratic and win and be up there." And Harrington appreciates what it takes to win an Open. "In my own head I'll be certainly telling myself that I know what I'm doing and I've done it before. …

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