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Is Rory McIlroy the champion elect? Find out how many third-round leaders lifted the Claret Jug on Sunday

Game over? Rory McIlroy is on the brink of lifting the Claret Jug. Or is he ...

by Josh Powell | July 19, 2014

It’s Saturday night. Up and down Britain, lads and lasses are winding down by necking a few strawberry woo-woos, dancing on the tables and crawling to kebab shops after an evening of fun, frolics and face-planting the floor.

But at the Royal Liverpool, Rory McIlroy is facing into one the biggest days of his career. The greens will feel quicker and putting feels like trying to get an elephant’s testicle into a button hole – and that’s just playing crazy golf against the missus.

Imagine what trying to hold it together to lift the Claret Jug feels like?

History lends itself, but only slightly, to the third-round leader. In the last 15 years, eight of them have gone on to win the tournament giving a strike rate of 53 per cent.

McIlroy goes into the final round on 16-under par, a chunky six shots clear of golf boy Ricky Fowler – the largest lead since Tiger Woods went on to win in 2000.

And while there won’t be any sambuca shots in Concert Square for Rory tonight our stats show that it mightn’t be game over just yet.


  • Drive over to all the latest Open Championship odds on desktop | mobile 

This time last year Lee Westwood was three clear of the field with eventual champion Phil Mickelson five shots off the pace.A final round 66 ensured Lefty lifted the Claret Jug for the first time – and Westwood remained Majorless.

In 11 of the last 15 years, the third round leader has at least made it to a play-off for the title, giving Ricky Fowler, Sergio Garcia and Dustin Johnson-backers some small hope going into Sunday that he can be pegged back.

However, if you backed McIlroy each-way when Paddy Power was a best-priced 20/1 you might start thinking about what you’re going to do with your winnings.

In the last 15 years, only Czech Alex Cejka in 2001, managed to finish outside the top three after leading on Sunday morning. Plus Paddy was paying 7 places before the tournament teed off – Yabadabadoo.

But don’t count all your money just yet on the former Mr Caroline Wozniacki as he looks to join Woods and Jack Nicklaus in winning his third Major by the age of 25.

Ernie Els was six shots off the lead in 2012 and sitting in fifth when he called it a night on Saturday. A day later he was Open Champion for a second time.


Paul Lawrie’s success in 1999 is a bit of an anomaly due to Jean van de Velde’s incredible collapse. His 10-shot turnaround is the biggest comeback in Major history. The last two winners have come from off the pace. What price a third on the spin?

Where was the winner sitting on Saturday night?

  • 2013: Phil Mickelson – Ninth, five shots off the lead
  • 2012: Ernie Els – Fifth, six shots off the lead
  • 2009: Stewart Cink – Sixth, three shots off the lead
  • 2008: Padraig Harrington – Second, two shots off the lead
  • 2007: Padraig Harrington – Third, six shots off the lead
  • 2003: Ben Curtis – Third, two shots off the lead
  • 1999: Paul Lawrie – Tenth, ten shots off the lead

Have you got the nerve? All the latest odds are over this way…on DESKTOP | MOBILE 

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