The challengers to Tom Watson's bid to become the oldest winner in Major championship history were beginning to gather at Turnberry.
Watson held a one shot lead over England's Ross Fisher and Australian Mathew Goggin going into the final round, the 59 year old looking to win a remarkable sixth Open Championship title some 34 years after his first.
Although the wind was again blowing over the Ayrshire links, defending champion Padraig Harrington predicted the pin positions would lead to plenty of birdies, despite only managing two himself in a closing round of 73 to finish 12 over par.
That theory looked like being proved correct as Ernie Els and Luke Donald both picked up two early birdies to climb the leaderboard.
Els, winner at Muirfield in 2002, birdied the first and seventh, while Donald picked up shots at the first and fourth to join the South African on one over par, inside the top ten and just five off the lead.
Japan's Kenichi Kuboya had also birdied the third to improve to one over alongside Italy's Francesco Molinari, who had birdied the first.
Fellow Italian Matteo Manassero was also one over, the 16 year old already guaranteed the silver medal as leading amateur but looking to add the Claret Jug to the British Amateur title he won in June.
Manassero, who played with Watson and Sergio Garcia in the first two rounds, was the youngest winner of the Amateur Championship in its 124 year history.
Fisher remains adamant he will quit The Open at any stage to be with his wife Jo if she goes into labour, but no news continues to be good news for the 28 year old.His manager, Conor Ridge, said: "She's in good shape and so is he. All good on the home front."