World number six Phil Mickelson launched a typically pugnacious charge to join overnight pacesetter Darren Clarke at the top of the leaderboard in the final round of the 140th British Open on Sunday.
American Mickelson has flattered to deceive at the third major of the season, managing just one top-10 finish in 17 previous appearances, but he showed he meant business by racing to the turn in a wind-defying 30 strokes, five under.
Ignoring 56km/h gusts, the strongest winds of the week at Royal St George’s, and squally showers, Mickelson picked up an early birdie at the second.
He then struck a long, raking approach under the breeze at the par-four fourth, one of the most difficult holes on the links course, before knocking in a 15-foot birdie putt.
Mickelson, a four-times major winner, picked up another stroke at the sixth before joining Clarke on five-under by coaxing in a 20-foot putt for an eagle three at the seventh.
The triple US Masters champion then produced a laser-guided missile of an approach to 12 feet at the eighth but his putt agonisingly lipped out.
Mickelson had a chance to go out in a remarkable 29 strokes but his 15-foot birdie putt slipped by the hole at the ninth to leave him five-under for the championship.
Clarke opened with a birdie at the second before bogeying the fourth to go back to his overnight position of five-under.
In third place on three-under was Clarke’s playing partner Dustin Johnson of the US.
American Rickie Fowler and Thomas Bjorn of Denmark were on two-under through seven holes. – Reuters