Overcast start to third round

Overcast conditions today greeted the early starters as the third round of the Open Championship got under way at Muirfield.

Overcast start to third round

Overcast conditions today greeted the early starters as the third round of the Open Championship got under way at Muirfield.

And that gave the 84 players who made the cut hope of some respite from the parched East Lothian links which had caused such problems over the first two days.

Only nine players reached halfway under par, with the cut falling at eight over and seeing 1999 champion Paul Lawrie make the weekend after rounds of 81 and 69, while 2004 winner Todd Hamilton also survived after the same scores in the opposite order.

Miguel Angel Jimenez held the lead on three under par, the 49-year-old looking to become the oldest ever winner of a major championship just seven months after breaking his leg in a skiing accident.

The Rioja-loving Spaniard – surely a perfect winner of the Claret Jug – was only one shot ahead of the chasing pack however, with playing partner Henrik Stenson, England’s Lee Westwood, world number one Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson two under.

Scotland’s Martin Laird, Spain’s Rafael Cabrera-Bello and former Masters champions Zach Johnson and Angel Cabrera were another shot adrift.

Darren Clarke had declined to speak to waiting reporters after a second-round 71 which contained an eight on the sixth where he took three shots to escape a greenside bunker, but the 2011 champion was only four off the pace alongside Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter and Adam Scott.

Lawrie thought he had no chance of making the cut when he finished his second round around 1:30pm on Friday, driving home to Aberdeen - a distance of 150 miles - only to be told hours later by his son that he was in for the weekend.

Two bogeys and one birdie in his first eight holes today meant there was no early charge, with Muirfield still posing problems for the world’s best players.

American Boo Weekley holed from 15ft for an eagle on the fifth, but only after a double-bogey six at the third, while Sweden’s Carl Pettersson had chipped in for an eagle on the sixth after a double-bogey on the fourth.

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