Louis Oosthuizen takes 1-shot lead over Collin Morikawa to Open fourth round

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SANDWICH, England — Even with his swing loosening in the last hour Saturday, Louis Oosthuizen ran off the 18th green with a one-shot lead over The Open and another chance to end his 11-year wait for a second major title.

A third round as undulating as the fairways at Royal St. George’s ended as it began, with Oosthuizen holding off Collin Morikawa and Jordan Spieth and three shots separating the trio.

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Oosthuizen, a runner-up in the past two majors, overcame his first real wobble of the tournament in the back nine with a key par save on the 15th and an 8-foot birdie on the par-3 16th leading to a 1- under 69.

That put him at 12-under 198, as the South African stayed on course to become the first wire-to-wire winner of the oldest golf championship since Rory McIlroy in 2014.

Morikawa slipped a 15-foot birdie putt just past the hole on the 18th green, settling for a 68 as he bids on a second major to match his win at last year’s PGA Championship. The American was four shots behind after 10 holes and made a strong push when Oosthuizen showed signs of fading, reducing the gap to one shot.

Spieth tied for the lead until he bogeyed on his last two holes — missing a 2-foot par putt on the 18th — to complete a disappointing back nine of lost chances. The three-time major champ shot a 69 and is three shots back just as he started the day.

Things would have looked so different with an hour left in the day, with the three players tied 11-under with four holes to play on a day when pin positions – not the weather – proved to be the best defense at Royal St. George’s.

The winds didn’t rise above 10 mph, and a cloudless sky with bright sunshine certainly seemed to bring in another low-scoring day. Pins, however, were tucked away, sometimes near slopes, while the firmer fairways brought the deep rough and pot bunkers into play.

It prevented some big names from launching a challenge.

Top ranked Dustin Johnson started four shots from the lead but fell out of contention by making five bogeys in his first 11 holes. Two late birdies could only get him a 73, leaving him eight shots.

Brooks Koepka, a four-time major champion, was a shot further back after managing a round of 72.

McIlroy started much further back but reached the bottom 4 corner for the championship after five birdies. The back nine was a different story, and McIlroy threw an iron on the floor — he called it a “small throw” — during a run of three bogeys in five holes en route to shooting 69, his first round in the 1960s at Royal St. George’s. It left him 1 under and with no chance of a second Claret Jug.

Instead, Corey Conners (66) and Scottie Scheffler (69) came into battle at 8 under while Jon Rahm — looking to add The Open to his US Open last month — shot 68 and was 7th under wide Mackenzie Hughes and Dylan Frittelli.

Marcel Siem, who only qualified for the second-rate Challenge Tour in Europe last week, recovered from an 8 after going out of bounds on the 14th par-5 with two birdies in his last three holes. He was tied three way for ninth, six from the lead.

They’re all chasing Oosthuizen, who won St Andrews in 2010 and has since racked up a career Grand Slam of second-place finishes. So was last month’s US Open, where he led with two holes left to play until Rahm’s birdie-birdie finish. He was also second in the PGA Championship tokampioenschap Phil Mickelson.

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