Jordan Spieth put himself in prime position to defend the Claret Jug by surging into a share of The Open lead after round three on a day when Tiger Woods shot into contention at Carnoustie.
Low scoring was the order of the day on a glorious Saturday on the east coast of Scotland with the leaderboard a sea of red, and Spieth carded a sublime 65 to sit level with Kevin Kisner and Xander Schauffele at nine under.
It was the latest in a series of sublime major performances by Spieth, who produced a textbook display of links golf, recording an eagle and four birdies in a blemish-free round.
On a truly dramatic day where the leaderboard was ever-changing, Woods delighted the spectators with a performance reminiscent of the dominance that saw him win 14 major titles.
The American great carded a score of 66, his lowest at an Open since winning in 2006, and will start Sunday's final round four shots adrift of the leaders.
Kisner, who has led or co-led after every round, was also blemish-free en route to a three-under 68, while Schauffele birdied the last to join the leaders and Kevin Chappell is two strokes back.
Francesco Molinari rocketed up the leaderboard with a 65 to reach six under and Zach Johnson, who started round three as co-leader, shot a one-over 72 to fall four back.
For the third straight day Rory McIlroy mixed promise with frustration, a bogey at the last means he is tied six alongside Woods, Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Webb Simpson, Alex Noren and Tommy Fleetwood, while Justin Rose is at four under after tying the lowest Open round ever at Carnoustie with a 64.
After Rose had set the tone for the day, Woods took up the mantle and delighted the galleries by going out in just 33 strokes.
A crunching approach left a tap-in birdie at 10 and he briefly co-led after making gains at the 11th and 14th, only for a bogey at 16 – after a brilliant strike from the tee rolled off the green – to set him back.
Luck was on his side when a wayward tee shot at the last threatened to go in the Barry Burn and a brilliant approach to within two feet saw him rescue par.
Molinari, Noren and Chappell – playing alongside Spieth – also scored big, while Schauffele flew under the radar.
He went on a streak of three birdies between the fifth and seventh before picking up another stroke at 14. The American then rebounded from a dropped shot at 17 to birdie the last and take a share of the lead.
But Spieth is the man most will feel is favourite after riding a juggernaut that never looked like being stopped.
It began with an almighty drive at the par-four first that rolled to within 10 feet of the flag and resulted in an opening eagle, and continued when a glorious approach at the fourth left a tap-in birdie.
A run of six straight pars ended when a marvellous strike into the 11th green left a four-footer for birdie and another gain followed at the par-five 14th.
Spieth has had issues down the stretch this week, but a fine tee shot at 16 left a 10-footer for birdie that he rolled in before safely negotiating the last two holes.
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