Tiger Woods moved a step closer to a place in history as he opened up a six shot lead going into the final round of the 129th Open Championship at St Andrews after a five under par 67. With a 54-hole total of 200, 16 under par, the World No 1 is six clear of World No 2 David Duval and Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn as he bids to become the youngest player to win all four of golf’s major championships.
But Duval, up from 15th to joint second with a 66, has not given up yet and nor has Bjorn, whose 68 left him alongside Duval.
Darren Clarke, with one victory already this season over Woods, is one further back following a 68 of his own and shares fourth spot with another American, Loren Roberts.
Woods already holds the US PGA Championship title and US Open title and nobody since Jack Nicklaus in 1972 has held three major titles at the same time. Victory tomorrow and Woods will join Nicklaus, Gary Player, Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen as the only men to collect all four in their careers.
After 63 consecutive holes in major championship golf without a bogey, Woods finally dropped one when he three-putted the second but he immediately hit back with a birdie and when he added two more at the eighth and ninth to turn in 34 his three-stroke halfway lead was restored.
“The tournament is not over yet - if it was I'd be sitting here with the trophy," said Woods. "I need to execute one shot at a time and stick to my game plan. But I played well today. There were some tough pin placings, but when I had the opportunity to make birdies I tried."
There were a lot of changes behind him, but at the end of it Duval and Bjorn were joint second, Clarke, Roberts and Toms joint fourth, and then Ernie Els and three further Americans - Tom Lehman, Steve Flesch and Dennis Paulson - on eight under.
Els reached 10 under, but drove into an unplayable lie in gorse on the 12th and double-bogeyed.
Clarke, conqueror of Woods at the World Match Play in California in February and current leader of the Volvo Order of Merit, remained in the chasing pack by going to the turn in 33 with birdies at the second, fifth and seventh.
The Ulsterman three-putted the 10th, hitting his first long-range effort eight feet wide, but a nine-footer at the 12th got him back to eight under and after another bogey at the 15th he birdied the last.