Smith falls away at British Open after bad call from bunker

Smith falls away at British Open after bad call from bunker

scheduled tribe. ANDREWES, Scotland (AP) – Cameron Smith stepped into a fairway bunker about 3 feet below his ball, which was anchored precariously on the lip of the net.

The Australian had seen his overnight lead disappear in a disappointing third round at the British Open and was here on the 13th hole of the Old Course with a big decision.

Play it safe and somehow get the ball back in play. Or go for the bold shot that was in danger.

He made the wrong choice.

Reaching up and out of the bunker with his iron, Smith threw a low, ugly shot into the Heather bush from about 100 yards and swung his club angrily. Then he turned more rough on a bank in front of the green, and failed to go up and down.

A double-bogie 6 was the low point of a round that ended at No. 18, as if there were too many holes for the man with perhaps the most famous haircut in golf—Smith succumbed in agony after losing a birdie putt.

He started with a two-shot lead on Saturday, the lowest 36-hole total at a British Open in St Andrews, and was in a strong position for a run on the first major title.

He finished four behind Rory McIlroy and Victor Hovland, and with much regret after his 1-over 73, which left him third at 12-under.

“It wasn’t my day,” said Smith, “to get something like this (at No. 13) after an already disappointing 11 or 12 holes.”

Smith made 255 feet of putt on Friday when he shot 8-under 64, but only about 50 in his third round. He missed a par put by 4 feet on the first hole and more short birdie putts on the fifth, 15th and 18th holes.

“It was very disappointing,” Smith said. “It’s probably the best I’ve hit the ball with all week. I had a lot of chances.”

Also going in the wrong direction on Moving Day was Dustin Johnson, the former No. 1 who – one of the players to join the Saudi-funded LIV golf tour – is used to playing only 54 holes these days.

When Smith was making the wrong decision in the rough on 13th, Johnson was par-5 14th, rolling an eagle putt into the green and a bunker, forcing him out of the pin.

A real chance of a birdie turned into a tap-in for the bogey, and he got the mistake.

Johnson bogeyed two of his next three holes, then hit his willful low drive on the 18th and nearly hit Svilcon Bridge in front of the tee box. Somehow, Johnson emerged with a birdie for round 71, starting with birdies at No. 2 and 3, giving him a one-shot lead at the time.

Johnson was the only one in seventh, coming off a six-shot lead. He is the best LIV player out there, but is unlikely to lift the claret jug now, which will undoubtedly suit R&A.

As the sun disappeared and the pressure increased in the evening, there were mistakes everywhere on the closing section of the Old Course on Saturday.

Take 25-year-old American Cameron Young, playing in his first British Open and third round final pairing.

When he hoisted the flag on par-4 No. 16, he was under 14 and just one shot away from the lead, one of the toughest holes of the day. Young’s ball bounced right over the green, and his return chip flew over the pin and down the slope. He double bogeyed.

Young looked to drop the second shot when he hit his second shot too hard and hit through the 18th green, but managed to save the par.

He starts the final round with a four-shot lead, just as he was at the PGA Championship in Southern Hills in May, where he finished in a tie for third.

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More AP Golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Steve Douglas is at https://twitter.com/sdouglas80

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