CARNOUSTIE, Scotland (Reuters) - American Xander Schauffele has proved he can mix it with the best on his home tour but he is less well-known to European golf fans and believes that could work in his favour during the final round of the British Open.
The 24-year-old Californian burst on to the scene by winning twice in 2017, at the Greenbrier Classic in West Virginia and at the lucrative, season-ending Tour Championship in Atlanta.
“All the guys I’ve talked to said, ‘Live it up while you can’,” Schauffele told reporters on Saturday after his third-round 67 secured a share of the lead with compatriots Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.
“Today I played in front of Rory McIlroy’s crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he’s trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me so I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”
Kisner, who has been at the top of the leaderboard all week, is aiming for a wire-to-wire win, and the form he showed while compiling a 68 on Saturday should serve as a warning to his title rivals.
“That was the most solid tee-to-green I’ve played all week,” he explained. “I’m really feeling more comfortable with the long game.
“I didn’t hole the amount of putts I did the first two days but the conditions got tough coming down the stretch.”
Kisner, Schauffele and Spieth are tied on nine-under-par 204, two shots clear of another American, Kevin Chappell.
Like Kisner and Schauffele, Chappell is also dreaming of a maiden major championship triumph after his 67 left him at the head of the chasing pack.
Chappell said he was starting to benefit from the new alliance he has formed with swing coach Sean Foley.
“Some of Sean’s philosophical stuff has really hit home with me,” he explained. “He is obviously making me more efficient hitting it but more efficient mentally, and understanding who I am.
“We have a pretty open relationship. I just try to be as vulnerable with him as I can and let him help me the most he can.”
Editing by Neville Dalton