One lucky roll on the back nine cost Scottie Scheffler a couple of strokes and plenty of momentum.
The Masters champion started the day five strokes behind Cameron Smith at the British Open. He finished it five strokes behind Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland.
“You can get rolling around here in a hurry,” said Scheffler, who shot a three-under-par 69 in the third round Saturday. “I was rolling it pretty good today, and I could have taken it really low. The putts weren’t going in.”
The top-ranked Scheffler won his first major at Augusta National in April and finished in a tie for second last month at the US Open. His score Saturday on the fast and firm Old Course marks the 17th time in the last 20 major championship rounds he has been inside the top 10 on the leaderboard.
The 26-year-old American shot back-to-back 68s on Thursday and Friday before his 69 put him in a tie for fifth at 11-under 205.
But it was that one unfavorable roll that stuck in his mind.
“I got a really bad break there on 12, which probably cost me two shots,” Scheffler said. “Instead of the ball running out in the green, it ends up in the lip of a pot bunker. That’s what happens on this golf course. At the end of the day, you hate seeing that happen to yourself.”
Scheffler ended up with a bogey on that hole after two consecutive birdies on the 10th and 11th. He had another bogey on the 17th before finishing with a birdie on No. 18.
There is one more round to go, and the conditions on the Old Course change with the weather. And the weather in Scotland can change fast.
“I think you just got to get used to the golf course and the firmness. And I think links golf kind of suits me where you’re hitting all different kinds of shots and creating and seeing, versus playing numbers. So for me, I don’t have to change too much,” Scheffler said. “Just got to get used to the conditions.”
Ice bath for Spieth
Instead of a relaxing hot bath, Jordan Spieth is looking forward to a rejuvenating ice bath.
The 2017 British Open champion has played eight of the last 10 weeks and was eight strokes behind going into the final round.
To get ready for Sunday’s final round on the Old Course, Spieth has a plan.
“I’ll probably do an ice bath tonight, which ice baths are a lot harder in Scotland than they are in Memphis,” Spieth said, referring to the next tournament he will play after the British Open. “I like to do cold therapy whenever I can. I think it’s the most beneficial thing I’ve found.”
Spieth said the ice helps his legs feel fresher the next day and helps him sleep better too.
As many traveling Americans know, however, getting ice in a soft drink on this side of the Atlantic isn’t always easy. Spieth has found a way.
“Ice is hard to get into a Coca-Cola over here, so I’m very lucky that [the hotel has] access to a big ice machine and they bring bags of ice,” Spieth said, adding that PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas is doing the same thing. “We’ve gotten lucky that they’ve hooked us up there, yeah.
“Thank you. This is an unusual interview.”
Shane Lowry’s back-to-back eagles both came from chip shots. It was his putting that let him down.
Lowry, who won the 2019 British Open at Portrush, first chipped in on the ninth hole for an eagle two.
“I hit a poor tee shot on 9 and got a pretty good break and just hit a lovely pitch,” the Irishman said. “It was a nice lie in the rough, and I could be fairly aggressive. I knew it was going to spin and hit a lovely shot.”
On the next hole, another par four, Lowry put his drive in the fairway but said the pin was in a tricky place on the green.
“I was just trying to get as close as I could, and it just came out perfect and went in,” Lowry said. “But the rest of the day wasn’t so enjoyable. Look, I feel like I played OK. [It] wouldn’t take Einstein to figure out what wrong went on the back nine. My putting was horrible.”
The eagle-eagle got Lowry to nine under, but he bogeyed three of the next seven holes and finished with a 69 after a birdie on No. 18. That left him at seven under for the tournament, nine strokes behind the leaders.
“I shoot one under for the last seven holes and I’m very bullish about my chances going into tomorrow,” Lowry said. “Now I have no luck. It’s just very disappointing.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.