Collin Morikawa closed in on his second major at the British Open on Sunday as the American took a three-shot lead over Jordan Spieth into the back nine at Royal St. George’s.
The American, making his debut at the Open Championship, sank a hat-trick of birdie putts at the seventh, eighth and ninth to hit the turn at 14 under par for the championship.
The 2020 US PGA champion could become the first British Open debutant to win since Ben Curtis’ shock success at Royal St. George’s 18 years ago.
Louis Oosthuizen had led after every round this week, but the South African looks set to be the bridesmaid once more at a major as he was two over for his first nine holes to slip back to 10 under.
The 2010 British Open winner has had six second-place finishes at majors since, including twice already this year at the US PGA and US Open.
Oosthuizen’s bogey at the fourth allowed Morikawa to take a share of the lead on 11 under.
Louis Oosthuizen found bunkers twice at the par-five seventh
A two-shot swing at the seventh then put the 24-year-old in the driving seat as he rolled in a simple putt for birdie after a sublime approach, while Oosthuizen dropped another shot after firing twice into bunkers around the green.
Morikawa drained another 10-foot birdie putt at the ninth to extend his advantage over his playing partner as Spieth moved into second after a shaky start.
The American, who finished his third round with two bogeys on Saturday, also dropped shots at the fourth and sixth to drop back to seven under.
However, the 2017 British Open champion stormed back with an eagle at the par-five seventh before back-to-back birdies at nine and 10 kept him in contention.
– Koepka charge –
The pristine conditions as temperatures reached 30 degrees celsius on England’s south-east coast offered the chance for one of the chasing pack to launch themselves into contention.
Four-time major champion Brooks Koepka made a late charge for his first British Open with a five under par round of 65 to set the clubhouse lead on eight under.
On the move: Brooks Koepka set the clubhouse lead at the British Open on eight under par with a 65 on Sunday
However, Koepka’s move after starting the day at three under may have come too late for the American to add to his major haul.
The world number eight may rue his two over par score on Saturday after a flawless fourth round.
An eagle at the seventh was sandwiched by birdies at the sixth and ninth before picking up another shot at the 12th.
But six pars coming home left Koepka needing a collapse from the overnight leaders.
US Open champion Jon Rahm is back to where he started the day at seven under after 11 holes despite also sinking an eagle at seven.
World number one Dustin Johnson finished on seven under.
Earlier, Bryson DeChambeau ended an awkward week on a high, the former US Open champion carding his first sub-70 round in the British Open with a bogey-free 65 to finish on two under par for the championship.
DeChambeau was involved in an embarrassing spat with his own club manufacturer after complaining that his driver “sucks” after the first round.
Rory McIlroy finished at level par after shooting a 71 on Sunday.