Choi, Norman lead midway through third round

July 20th, 2008 - 1:18 am ICT by IANS  

By V. Krishnaswamy
Southport (Britain), July 19 (IANS) With wind speeds going past 45 miles per hour, the discussion is no longer around Tiger Woods, as a very interesting group moved into contention in challenging conditions in the British Open at the Royal Birkdale. While the Australian legend Greg ‘Shark’ Norman, followed by his new bride Chris Evert, was playing in the lead group with Asian powerhouse K.J. Choi and both were at four-over after 10 holes, following an identical double bogey on 10th, they were one shot ahead of defending champion Padraig Harrington of Ireland, who suffered a bogey on 11th and a double bogey on 12th, and Simon Wakefield (70) who equalled the day’s best of an even par round.

The foursome were within one shot of each other and Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell, both still on the course, were at six-over.

Choi, who began the day as sole leader, was five-over through 10 with double bogeys on sixth and 10th and a bogey on eighth. Norman, one behind Choi at the start, was four-over for the day after 10.

The strong winds may have chased the clouds away to allow the players and the spectators a first glimpse of the sun this week, but the speed of the winds itself became a concern.

The best rounds of the day were level-par 70s by Henrik Stenson of Sweden, Davis Love and Ben Curtis of the US, though former champion Curtis at one stage was three-under with an eagle and a birdie.

Curtis raised hopes of a good score by turning in three-under, but three bogeys in a row from the 11th ended that. His eagle was the result of a second shot finding its way straight into the hole at the 451-yard third for an eagle two. He then added birdies on the fifth and seventh, dropped a bogey on the sixth in between.

Simon Khan, who had grabbed one of the last berths into the Open finished with a very creditable 71.

Ernie Els and Lee Westwood, two of golf’s biggest names had a miserable time. Els had a 74, which was a lot better than his first round 80 and he is now 13-over. Westwood had a 78 and was now 17-over for three rounds, leaving him stranded at the bottom of the remaining players at 17-over.

Said Els who has been having a disappointing 2008: “It’s been a tough year up to now, so I’m going back to basics. I’m going to see Butch Harmon in Vegas for two days to work on my short game.”

He was full of praise for the way the course was set up for what was always going to be a tricky day.

He said, “If they’d cut the greens short, we wouldn’t be playing today. The balls didn’t move, so they’ve done a good job. They’ve also moved the tees up, so they’ve made it playable. If you play proper golf on here you could even shoot par - but I think anyone four, five or six over still has a chance to win.”

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