GULLANE, Scotland – After his disappointing fade down the stretch of the U.S. Open, Hunter Mahan guaranteed he’d be ready the next time he went off in the final pair on the last day of a major. He won’t have to wait long to prove it.
The Texan left the British Open late Saturday afternoon as one of only three golfers with a red number alongside his name, a good measure of how Muirfield has manhandled the world’s best. Mahan’s 3-under 68 was tied for best round of the day and left him two strokes behind third-round leader and today’s playing partner Lee Westwood.
Just a month ago, Mahan found himself in the last group with Phil Mickelson at Merion Golf Club, another demanding layout where he strung together one tough par after another, only to fall out of contention with a double-bogey at the 15th. He finished tied for fifth and said at the time that experience wouldn’t go to waste.
Does it help? Mahan said. I think it does. Because I think it can be overwhelming at times. Being in the first or second, last groups there, to have everybody following you and seeing all the scores and everything, it can be overwhelming.
Former Purdue golfer Shiv Kapur continued to drop down the leader board with a 12-over 83.
Kapur, who began Saturday tied for 24th, fell to a tie for 83rd with a three-round total of 15-over 228. He is 18 strokes behind leader Westwood.
Kapur briefly led the tournament when he went to 6 under after the seventh hole in the first round. He finished the first round at 3-under 68 and tied for fourth.
Miguel Angel Jimenez likes to relax with a good cigar and a glass of red wine. He might need something a little stronger after Saturday.
The Mechanic played solidly over the first two rounds and went into Saturday with a one-stroke lead. But he plummeted from contention with a 6-over 77.
This one started bad – four bogeys in the first eight holes – and didn’t improve much. Still within striking distance of the leaders, Jimenez played the final five holes at 4-over par. He took double-bogey at the 16th, needing two swings to escape a pot bunker. At the 17th, he lipped out a 3-footer to save par.
He still has an outside shot, going to the final round six strokes behind Westwood. But the fun-loving Spaniard knows his chances are slim, especially with nine players between him and the lead, including Tiger Woods, Adam Scott, Angel Cabrera, Zach Johnson and Phil Mickelson – major winners all.
Jimenez hoped to become the oldest major winner in golf history at age 49. Instead, he’ll likely have to settle for a good smoke and a sip of vino from something besides the claret jug.