CARNOUSTIE, Scotland, July 21 (Reuters) - Justin Rose matched the lowest score in Carnoustie’s British Open history, a flawless seven-under-par 64 in the third round at the British Open on Saturday.
A day after making the cut with nothing to spare thanks to a birdie at the 36th hole, Rose made the most of his reprieve on a serenely calm morning on the east coast of Scotland.
The world number three capped off a flawless performance with birdies at the final two holes, running in a 12-footer at the last for the lowest round of the championship.
He posted a four-under 209 total, finishing nearly three hours before halfway leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner had even teed off at six-under.
Despite his stellar performance, it seemed likely Rose would still stay several shots behind at day’s end, because conditions were expected to stay benign throughout the afternoon, with only the slightest breeze wafting across the links.
Nevertheless, the 2013 U.S. Open champion was delighted with his day’s work.
“Momentum wise, birdieing the final hole picking up where I left off last night got me into the round early,” Rose said.
“The first couple of days were difficult and frustrating. The birdie on 18 last night freed me up and very happy to be here.
“I kept it together mentally, felt a bit more in control with my game too. To keep a clean sheet on this course obviously leads to great stuff.”
Rose said he had birdied the easier holes, but still arrived at the difficult closing stretch knowing he needed to pick up a couple more strokes to give himself even an outside chance heading into Sunday.
“Playing the last four holes I was pushing myself to make a couple more,” he said.
“Those late couple of birdies certainly tomorrow will make it at least interesting.”
Rose’s round matched the 64 shot by American Steve Stricker in the third round here in 2007, while Australian Richard Green shot the same score in the final round back when the Open most recently was played at Carnoustie.
Rose was far from the only player going low on Saturday. Minutes later, Japan’s Yusaku Miyazato, in the pairing behind Rose, posted a bogey-free 65 to get to three-under.
Carnoustie, often the most difficult course on the Open rota, was there for the taking. (Reporting by Andrew Both Editing by Christian Radnedge)