Bubba Watson (Getty Images)
Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy and Padraig Harrington were all unable to make any impression on the leaderboard despite excellent conditions in the third round of The Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes – but American Bubba Watson was making progress.
World Number Three Westwood made the cut right on the mark of three over par and was delighted to be paired with five-time Open Champion Tom Watson in the second group out, but could only manage a one over 71.
Former US Open Champion McIlroy and double Open winner Harrington began the day one shot better off than Westwood, but carded rounds of 73 and 70 respectively, with McIlroy only carding one birdie.
Some tough pin positions were keeping the scoring in check, with a scoring average of 71.6 for the first 21 players to finish and US PGA champion Keegan Bradley and Vijay Singh returning the lowest scores of 68.
Masters Tournament champion Bubba Watson was the first man to creep onto the bottom of the leaderboard, the unorthodox left-hander carding four birdies and one bogey in his first ten holes to improve to three under.
However, that was still seven shots behind leader Brandt Snedeker, who held a one shot lead over Adam Scott after equalling the lowest 36-hole total in Open history - set by Nick Faldo at Muirfield in 1992 - with rounds of 66 and 64.
Three-time Open Champion Tiger Woods, seeking his first Major title in four years and a 15th overall, was four off the lead on six under, one ahead of Denmark’s Thorbjørn Olesen.
Some excitement came from India's Anirban Lahiri firing a hole-in-one on the par three ninth after his tee shot pitched 12 feet from the pin and span sideways into the cup.
That followed two earlier bogeys and a birdie on the eighth and lifted the 25 year old from Bangalore back into red figures on one under par on his Open debut.
Meanwhile, England's Luke Donald had opened with a par three to remain two under, the World Number One having regular caddie John McLaren back on the bag after he missed yesterday's second round to attend the birth of his first child in London.
Watson was truly on a charge when he added more birdies on the 12th and 13th to climb into a share of fourth on five under par, but a bogey on the 14th halted his momentum.
Donald was just a shot behind after a birdie on the third, while 2002 champion Ernie Els was also three under after opening with two pars.