Stephen Dodd of Wales blistered the Sunningdale Golf Club course with a record-tying 8-under 62 on Saturday to take the lead after three rounds of the Senior Open Championship at Berkshire, England.
Dodd is at 11-under 199 heading into Sunday’s final round, vaulting from a tie for 10th place at the midway point into sole possession of the top spot.
Jerry Kelly remained in second place for a second consecutive day at 9 under with a 2-under 68 on Saturday, while England’s Darren Clarke fell a bit off the pace after he led following the first two rounds. Clarke is alone in third place at 8-under after an even-par 70.
Dodd was four strokes better than anybody in the third round, getting off to a roaring start with a 6-under 29 on the front nine before his momentum slowed a bit with a bogey 5 at No. 10.
His red-hot play returned with three consecutive birdies at Nos. 13-15 before closing with three consecutive pars. The round seemingly came out of nowhere after Dodd shot a 1-over 71 on Friday.
“Well, after (Friday), I wasn’t really sure what was going to happen because it was pretty poor,” said Dodd, who has won three times on both the European Tour and the European Senior Tour.
“So good night’s sleep, I suppose I got lucky once or twice early on. They weren’t very good shots, but it went close, and I started to hit some good shots in the back nine.”
Other than his long birdie put at the par-4 fifth hole, Dodd continued to give himself chances by knocking approach shots close to the pin. His 8-under- 62 tied the tournament record set by Jim Colbert in 2003 and Harold Henning in 1990.
“The weather is just great (and) the course is just set so well and so fair,” Dodd said. “I think if you play well, then there’s chances out there. Luckily today for me, I got something in.”
Kelly’s inconsistent third round included amassing five of his six birdies on the front nine, but he also had four bogeys and closed with a 1-over 36 on the back nine.
“Every time I made a birdie, I just ended up making a bogey,” Kelly said. “So, you know, those poa annua greens, they’re tough. But I need to go figure a little something out. I didn’t have speed or lines. So, I got to find something out.”
After a second round that included seven birdies, Clarke stumbled Saturday getting off to a slow start when compared to his fellow leaders. He was merely 1-under on the front nine and had a double-bogey 6 on No. 17.
“Yeah, I wouldn’t be very happy right now,” Clarke said. “I made a bad swing on 17. Trying to push it a little bit. Play was probably an iron off the tee. But decided to take driver, just had a bad shot.”
Ten years removed from winning the Open Championship, his only major title, Clarke is aiming to become the fourth player in history to win both the Open and the Senior Open following Gary Player, Bob Charles and Tom Watson.
A three-way tie for fourth place at 7-under included Germany’s Bernhard Langer, England’s Paul Broadhurst and Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez. Langer was tied for second place at the midway point before an even-par 70 on Saturday.
South Africa’s Ernie Els was alone in seventh place at 6-under, while Japan’s Yoshinobu Tsukada was alone in eighth at 5-under.