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The Open: Robert MacIntyre roars back with a stunning putt from a famous spot for a superb 65 at Sandwich

Robert MacIntyre found his pace with the putter for a five-under 65.
Robert MacIntyre found his pace with the putter for a five-under 65.

Robert MacIntyre found the feel on the greens he was looking for and finished with a 60-foot birdie putt from Sandy Lyle’s dip for a 65 in the third round of the Open Championship.

The Scot leapt nearly 50 places on the leaderboard with his five-under round to take him to four-under for the championship, and began seeing the pace and precision with the putter he’s felt has been escaping him the last few months.

Holing out from the scene of Lyle’s 1985 triumph

The finish was the best – holing out after losing his second shot into the deep dip left of the final green. Lyle famously could only get down in three from there, but still won the Claret Jug back in 1985.

Macintyre’s recovery putt was perfectly judged for a second successive birdie three, his sixth birdie of the day. The only bogey came at the short third.

“Obviously that at the end was a bonus, you’re only trying to get down in two from down there,” he said. “But the right pace – which was great all day – and a decent line, and it went in.”

‘We did a great job sticking to what we’re planning’

MacIntyre had scolded himself on Friday for being too gung-ho going at pins trying to make up ground, but caddie Mike Thomson had him sticking to the plan on Saturday.

“Mike’s a great help in this kind of weather,” continued MacIntyre. “He just kept on telling me `stay disciplined to your target’.

“I always go at pins I don’t need to go at. We did a great job sticking to what we’re planning, just visualise it and then, simple as that, execute it.

“I felt I hit the majority shots the way I wanted to – right up until the second on 18, but the third one kind of made up for it!”

‘I just wanted to try and hole some today’

The morning mindset was not to get 50 spots up the field, but to just see putts go into the hole.

“I just wanted to try and hole some today,” he said. “I just needed to see one good one going in at the right pace to believe, that one at the second (his first birdie) was an absolute perfect putt.

“It wasn’t the shape I prefer as a right-to-lefter, but it was perfect speed and when you get the pace right the hole becomes so much bigger.

“Even the one on 17, from my side it didn’t look that it was ever going to go in. But it had the right pace and it just dropped in.

“I’d actually hit a great putt at the first hole, even though it didn’t drop. I just mis-read it. It was almost the perfect round of golf for me.”

‘Sometimes it’s even better than that’

MacIntyre seems like his own harshest critic at times, but even he found plenty to “bum myself up about” in the third round.

“I hit the shot on 17 and I said to Mike, ‘that was actually a good shot’. Sometimes I bum myself up as well and sometimes it’s even better than that!”

“I think I will walk away from here, sit down and have a juice. I will speak to the team and say, ‘that was a really good performance’.

“As much as you have to beat yourself up sometimes, you have to pat yourself on the back as well..

“I am critical of myself. I didn’t feel I got anything out of last week and it was the same the first two days here. Managed to get something out of it by making the cut, but I felt I left something behind.

“Today was the foot on the gas again and it paid off.”

Sticking to the plan for Sunday

The plan is exactly the same on Sunday, and see where it takes him.

“I am fully comfortable,” he continued. “This is where I want to play golf. I know what already is really good, I know where I need to improve. It’s just about keeping on moving forward and not looking back and see what has gone wrong forever.

“We’ll keep on going and see how far we can go. I’ve got a lot to gain just now. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes that everyone knows about.

“I know fine well what a good performance here will do. Just keep playing free golf and keep seeing the putts go in and we’ll be alright.”

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