Rory McIlroy has complete faith in his ability to end his major drought in the best way possible by winning the 150th Open Championship at St Andrews.
McIlroy and playing partner Viktor Hovland carded matching third rounds of 66 on the Old Course to finish 16-under and open up a four-shot lead over the chasing pack led by Cameron Smith and Cameron Young.
“We fed off each other really well,” said McIlroy, who holed out from a bunker for an eagle on the 10th and also made five birdies. “We both put ourselves into a great position going into tomorrow.
“I know I am going to need one more day like the last three days to get the job done.”
McIlroy lifted the Claret Jug in 2014 and won the US PGA Championship a month later, but injury prevented him from defending his title at St Andrews in 2015 and he has endured a long wait for more major success.
“It would mean everything because of what I’ve been through the last few years trying to get that fifth one,” the world No 2 added.
“But here we are talking about not getting ahead of myself…I need to go out and keep the same mindset I’ve had the last three days…
“I have a lot of belief in myself. I’ve done it before, I know I can do it again. I’ve just got to go out and stay in my own little world, shoot a good score and hopefully that’s enough. “
When is it?
The 150th edition of The Open takes place from July 14-17 at the Old Course, St Andrews. So, Thursday to Sunday this week.
What time does it start?
For the opening two rounds, the early starters go out at 6.35am. The final group gets underway at 4.16pm.
What TV channel is it on?
The 150th Open will be shown live on Sky Sports. Alternatively, bookmark this page and follow Telegraph Sport’s live coverage of all four days.
Matt Fitzpatrick made the surprise admission that he was not a fan of St Andrews, but he insisted he remains hopeful of making a final-day charge at the 150th Open.
“I’ll be honest, I’m not really a fan,” the 27-year-old Yorkshireman said, having ended the third round at nine under par. “It’s difficult.”
The US Open champion begins the fourth round on the Old Course seven strokes off the lead held by Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland. Fitzpatrick carded five birdies in a three-under-par 69 to move into a tie for eighth place and felt he had not got just rewards for his efforts.
“You can hit good shots and get bad bounces, and you can hit bad shots and get good bounces,” he said. “I felt, for the first seven holes, I didn’t really miss a shot but I’m walking off the seventh green and I’m plus one.
“It’s tough to take. It’s tough to stay patient. But I managed to make a few putts coming in and that always makes you feel a little bit better.”
Fitzpatrick has a lot of ground to make up to follow last month’s success at Brookline with a second consecutive major victory and admits he will need some favors. He said: “I’ve never won from seven behind before so there’s always a first time. But I just think, looking at the golf course and how it plays in the afternoon, they’ve got to come back to me.”
Fitzpatrick’s comments are in stark contrast to the enthusiasm expressed by McIlroy for golf’s “holy grail”.
Three-time Open champion Bobby Jones famously said an elite player’s career would not be complete without lifting the Claret Jug on the Old Course. “I don’t know if a golfer’s career isn’t complete if you don’t, but I think it’s the holy grail of our sport,” McIlroy said when asked about the Jones quote last week.
What happened last year?
Collin Morikawa held off a late surge from Jordan Spieth to win at Royal St George’s, with the imperious American finishing 15-under.
Telegraph Sport’s golf match James Corrigan described Morikawa as “unbreakable, unmatchable and unbelievable” after he added the Open Championship to the US PGA title he collected in 2020.
If anyone is any doubt about the class of this Californian then consider that he only turned pro in June 2019 and this was only his eight major – and only Bobby Jones has won two quicker.
What are the latest odds?
Rory McIlroy 10/11
Viktor Hovland 7/4
Cameron Smith 10/1
Scottie Scheffler 18/1
Cameron Young 25/1
What are the tee times?
Sunday – fourth round (all times BST)
USA unless specified; (x) amateur notes
0720 Sam Bairstow (Eng) (x)
0730 Jamie Rutherford (Eng), Wyndham Clark
0740 Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn), David Law (Sco)
0750 Sam Burns, Sungjae Im (Kor)
0800 Garrick Higgo (Rsa), Adri Arnaus (Esp)
0810 Patrick Reed, Laurie Canter (Eng)
0825 Cameron Tringale, Joaquin Niemann (Chl)
0835 Aaron Jarvis (Cay) (x), Jordan Smith (Eng)
0845 Barclay Brown (Eng) (x), Danny Willett (Eng)
0855 Sebastian Munoz (Col), Robert Dinwiddie (Eng)
0905 Lars van Meijel (Ned), Yuto Katsuragawa (Jpn)
0915 Kurt Kitayama, Jason Kokrak
0930 Justin Thomas, Marcus Armitage (Eng)
0940 Paul Casey (Eng), Jason Scrivener (Aus)
0950 Justin De Los Santos (Phi), Tony Finau
1000 Thomas Detry (Bel), Thriston Lawrence (Rsa)
1010 Sergio Garcia (Sp), Corey Conners (Can)
1020 Adrian Meronk (Pol), John Parry (Eng)
1040 Robert MacIntyre (Sco), Talor Gooch
1050 Sadom Kaewkanjana (Tha), Abraham Ancer (Mex)
1100 David Carey (Ir), Lee Westwood (Eng)
1110 Harold Varner III, Joo-Hyung Kim (Kor)
1120 Brad Kennedy (Aus), Filippo Celli (Ita) (x)
1130 Billy Horschel, Chris Kirk
1145 Christiaan Bezuidenhout (Rsa), Richard Mansell (Eng)
1155 Sahith Theegala, Min Woo Lee (Aus)
1205 Lucas Herbert (Aus), Xander Schauele
1215 Jon Rahm (Sp), Victor Perez (Fra)
1225 Nicolai Hojgaard (Den), Will Zalatoris
1235 Ian Poulter (Eng), Anthony Quayle (Aus)
1255 Dean Burmester (Rsa), Aaron Wise
1305 Dylan Frittelli (Rsa), Russell Henley
1315 Bryson DeChambeau, Francesco Molinari (Ita)
1325 Trey Mullinax, Tyrrell Hatton (Eng)
1335 Shane Lowry (Irl), Brian Harman
1345 Thomas Pieters (Bel), Kevin Kisner
1400 Patrick Cantlay, Jordan Spieth
1410 Adam Scott (Aus), Matt Fitzpatrick (Eng)
1420 Tommy Fleetwood (Eng), Dustin Johnson
1430 Scottie Scheffler, Si Woo Kim (Kor)
1440 Cameron Smith (Aus), Cameron Young
1450 Rory McIlroy (NIrl), Viktor Hovland (Nor)