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The 137th Open Championship
Royal Birkdale - 17-20 July, 2008

Ireland's Padraig Harrington successfully defended the Open after a final round of 69 took him to three over par, four ahead of Ian Poulter.

Poulter finished second after a 69 to end seven over and was in with a shout of the title before Harrington's approach on 17 gifted him an eagle.

Two-time champion Greg Norman finished tied third after a 77 ended his hopes of a dream return to major golf.

England's Chris Wood hit a final round of 72 to take the Silver Medal award.


To get involved, text us on 81111, and join the debate on 606 (not all contributions can be used)

By Ben Dirs

1904: Right, that's Padraig's acceptance speech in the bag, and it was a goodun, he's a very gracious winner. Lord alone knows what's going to end up in the Claret Jug this year, it's a very short leap in a toddler's mind from ladybirds to worms... thanks for the chat, see you all in Turnberry next year...

"I'd like to thank Greg Norman. He was a tremendous gentleman to play golf with today, his sportsmanship was second to none. It looked like it might be his today, but his respone to all my good shots was just tremendous. I had a fantastic week in Liverpool. Yesterday after I double-bogeyed the 12th, a fella chapped me on the shoulder and said, 'don't worry, I have to go back to being a plumber on Monday'."
Open champion Padraig Harrington

1857: Bristol amateur Chris Wood steps up to receive his Silver Medal as top amateur - he finished tied fifth with Furyk, and that's some display from the 20-year-old. Up steps Poulter and it looks like he's been given a laptop for his efforts, but I'm sure it's something else... and here's the big man...

1854: Here's the presentation. Forgot to mention, good old Furyk, by staying sane while all around him lost their wits, won me 60 squid. Good old snake-swing.

1847: The last player to seal back-to-back Opens was Tiger Woods in 2005 and 2006. Tom Watson also did it in 1982 and 1983, Lee Trevino in 1971 and 1972, Arnold Palmer in 1961 and 1962 and Peter Thomson in 1953, '55 and '56. That's some company you're keeping Padraig.

1840: We mustn't forget a manful effort from England's Ian Poulter, who matched a pair of pastel-pink strides with real focus in the final round and came within four shots of winning the thing. And of course Greg Norman, who made us all remember just how great a player he was.

1835: Norman leaves his par putt right at 18 to finish with a five for a 77 and +9 overall. Norman applauds the crowd, the crowd share their love. Harrington rolls his birdie putt just right of the cup, but he taps in for par and it's the Irishman's championship again. What a back nine that was from Harrington, staying solid when most of his rivals melted all around him. A back nine of 32, including two birdies, an eagle and no dropped shots, and that's what great Open champions are made of.

1833: Harrington, four strokes clear at three over, waves at family and smiles that teethy grin of his as Norman prepares to splash out. The Shark digs out to within 15 feet of the pin as wife Chris Evert looks on.

1829: Harrington really showboating now, that's a peach of an iron into the 18th green. Birdie at the last and he's covered the back nine in 31, and that's the stuff that champions are made of. Norman carves his approach into the right-hand bunker, but he's big enough to stick an arm round his playing partner and whisper something nice in his ear as the crowd rise to their feet all around the green

1824: Looks like the engraver has already made his mark - he's holding it up to the light and admiring his work. No need for a rewrite, Harrington makes his tee shot sing down the 18th and it has a safe landing on the fairway. Norman laces his down the middle, now wait for the applause... KJ Choi, it turns out, found one his drives and somehow manages to get down in seven at the last. Costly for the Korean, he finishes on +12. Wakefield of England finishes with a 79 for +14 overall. But he should be back next year, he's tied for 19th.

European Up
1822: Harrington makes his eagle putt at the 17 to open up a four-shot lead over Poulter, the Englishman can start packing his bag.

1816: Norman gives it his all but doesn't quite catch his second at 17 and comes up short. He overcooks his pitch, but will have a putt for birdie. Choi has gone from flinty-eyed assassin to Mr Magoo in the space of a day - three off the tee at 18 and he'll be finishing miles off the pace. Norman almost bends his birdie putt in at 17, but it just misses to the right. Not his year, but what a memorable display

1812: The cameraman picks up Ian Poulter hitting shots on the practice ground, but someone should tell him to pack up his clubs and put his feet up - Harrington's just nailed what could be the defining shot of this year's Championship, a three wood that carries the bunker to the front-left of the green at 17 and finishes a few feet from the hole. Magnificent shot, the engraver can start wedging in that little monocle thingy that engravers use. Any ideas?

1810: Wakefield of England triple-bogeys 17 to drop back to +14. Shame, he'd had a good week. More sad news for England - Ross Fisher makes quadruple-bogey at the last to drop back to +15, and from eighth to 39th. Put that Bentley catalogue back in your handbag Mrs Fisher...

1806: The final pair on the 17th tee - this may well be where this year's event is won and lost. Harrington walks away from his ball a couple of times, waiting for the wind to abate, before rattling his tee shot down the middle of the fairway. Norman looks like he's going to put his back out with a couple of practice swings, but the old boy rips his tee shot to the edge of the fairway. He needs a three, and he's given himself a chance.

"I'm lost for words at the moment what a great week it has been. I didn’t feel under that much pressure because there is no pressure on me at all. Playing with Ian as well, he was playing so well, we were thriving off each other a little bit today. Obviously the support I had today again was brilliant and it's got bigger throughout the week."
Silver Medal winner Chris Wood

1800: Kim slides his par putt past the hole at 18 and that's a five, six, five finish from the 23-year-old American. A two-time winner on the US Tour this season, he finishes with a 75 and 12 over overall. Harrington rolls his birdie putt to within three feet at 16 and taps in for par. The Irishman remains at five over. Norman desperately needs his ball to drop... but it comes up short. Par for Norman, he stays three shots behind Harrington.

1757: Harrington looks like he's playing crazy golf with the kids at Margate. Outwardly unruffled and he finds the centre of the green with his approach at 16. Norman follows him on and they can both start dancing.

1755: Harrington has tugged his tee shot right of the fairway at 16. "I've got Wood," says the bloke sitting opposite me, meaning, I think that he's just taken down the young amateur's post-round quotes.

1753: It's been a brutal day for KJ Choi of Korea - many people tipping him for glory today, but he's struggled under some intense pressure. But he makes birdie at 16 to move back to +10. Apologies, Norman is actually eight over, and not seven over as I said earlier... all part of the reason I never became a top-class sportsman... that and the fact I have very little talent...

European Up
European Down
1748: Well done Greg Norman - he makes the most of that bunker escape, rolling in from six feet for birdie at 15. He's back to eight over. Stenson has dropped a shot at the last to finish on nine over. Unerring from Padraig, he rolls in for birdie - not par as I said earlier - and surges into a two-shot lead. The Claret Jug is the Irishman's again... unless... unless...

1746: Nice touch from Harrington from the edge of the green and he leaves himself a five-footer for birdie. Stenson flops out from a green-sdie bunker at 18, but he'll have to go some to make par.

1743: Norman pulls a rabbit out of the green-side bunker at 15. The Shark gouges at the sand and spins away from the spray before turning to see his ball land and grip five feet away from the pin.

1741: Norman makes a hash of his second at the 15th but Harrington is holding his round together - he finds the green with his approach. England's Wakefield is having something of a nightmare - seven bogeys and one birdie so far today and he's 11 over after 15. Stenson finds sand at 18, the Swede is just two off the lead.

1737: That's massive from Poulter at 18 - he rams home his 20-footer to save par and finish with a 69. He's seven over for the tournament, and one off leader Padraig Harrington. Poulter punches the air and screams like a man who has just rolled over to discover he spent the night with Jessica Alba.

European Up
1734: Birdie for Stenson at 17 and he's now eight over, two shots off the lead. Harrington and Norman both marmalise their drives down 15 and both find the fairway. Chris Wood drops in for bogey at the last for a round of 72, +10 overall and the Silver Medal for top amateur. Shades of Justin Rose at Birkdale in 1998. More importantly, who gets his prize money?

1731: Like a wounded animal, Norman suddenly sparks into life and bears his teeth, rolling in a monster at 14 to save par and stay at nine over. Harrington rams his par putt home to stay one ahead of the chasing pack. That could be Poulter on toast, the Englishman dragging his pitch about 30 feet left of the hole.

1728: A lengthy chat between Poulter and his caddy fails to pay dividends, his seven iron about two clubs short. Undeterred, the Englishman twirls his cap and soaks up the applause, as of course he should - it's not every day you walk down the 18th with a chance of winning the Open.

1725: Norman's round disintegrating, the Australian yanking his tee shot at the 201-yard 14th into another trap. Poulter nips off to point Percy, although not at the porcelain, but at some plants. Woods smothers his second shot at 18, yanking it well short and left of the green.

It's good news for a Briton at the Open
1722: Norman bogeys the 13th to drop back to +9, Wood birdies 17 to join him. What odds an amateur winning the Open Championship? Poulter sends a coruscating drive to just in front of a trap on the 18th, he'll have a shot in.

European Up
1719: Stenson has just birdied 15 to move to nine over. Anthony Kim of America has missed a very makeable birdie putt at 15 and remains nine over. Both still in the blender, but there's plenty of shaking to be done. That's a kick in the orchestras for Poulter - his birdie putt at 17 lips out and he stays at seven over. And Harrington follows up with an elbow into the Poulter solar plexus, draining a 15-footer at 13 to nick a one-shot lead.

1716: Norman can only punch out short from a fairway bunker, and the nerves are beginning to fray all over the course, Poulter coming up well short with his eagle putt at 17.

"I've just been part of the posse trailing the Norman/Harrington match and the tension is incredible. You could cut it with a knife. When you are out there and up close you really get a sense of how much pressure these boys are under with every single shot. We are in the final 90 minutes of play and no-one can predict a winner. Tasty."
BBC Sport's Mark Orlovac at Royal Birkdale

1713: It's as if Poulter as already been crowned as he strides to the 17th green. He stares straight ahead, but does manage one rather meek-looking wave. Norman is right up against a lip in his trap, it'll just be a lay-up from there. That's peche de la peche from Harrington, who finds the heart of the dancefloor with a parachuted approach at 13. The Irishman still swinging haymakers, his son's obviously been out collecting ladybirds...

1707: Wakefield drops a short at 13 to fall back to +10 and three off the lead. Harrington gives it some hammer with a long iron and finds the middle of the 13th fairway. That's a nice place for the Irishman to be at this moment in time. Norman's ball is gobbled up by a bunker on the right-hand side of the fairway, the Australian has really been wrestling with his game today. Poulter really cranking things up - that's a belting approach into the 17th green, the ball skipping past a green-side bunker, and he's got a chance of an eagle.

"Jim Furyk on +10 that looks a tough score to beat as everyone seems to be slipping back, i think poulter will win as much as i dont want him to."
andythetoonfan on 606
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1705: Norman has lipped out at 12 to drop back to eight over, but Harrington ignores the twitching in his trousers and finds the bottom of the cup with his par putt. Harrington of Ireland and Poulter of England on top.

It's good news for a Briton at the Open
1701: Poulter is the only man at Birkdale who looks like he wants it at the moment - he drains a 20-footer, the ball losing its bottle before deciding belatedly to fall over the edge, before letting fly with a brace of fist-pumps... the Milton Keynes golfer has made a few unfounded boasts in his time, but he might have something to really shout about in an hour's time...

1658: No English winner of the Open since Nick Faldo in 1992, and no English winner of a major since Faldo in 1996... no pressure then Poults. He's striking the ball like a dream at the moment and he unleashes a no-nonsense tee shot away at the 16th. Not clever from Norman off the tee at the 184-yard 12th, he'll do well to get down in two from the front of the green. Stenson of Sweden should make birdie at 15, which would take him to +9.

1652: Wakefield misses his par putt at 12 to fall back to +9. Harrington putts to within 10 feet at 11, he's got a horrible little clutch putt to remain atop the leaderboard. Norman very nearly sinks his monster, but the ball flirts with the left side of the cup and rolls on. Garcia is in with a 78, including a 44 on the back line, for 17 over overall. Harrington makes par and Norman stands over his par putt for an age - you could have popped out to the sales and snapped up some bargains in the time it took for him to strike that - but he rolls it in. Norman and Harrington one shot clear of Poulter on seven over.

1647: Wood dribbles his birdie putt left of the hole at 15 and he'll remain 10 over. Only four rounds under par so far today, and Norman and Harrington won't be adding to that tally. Both come up short with their approaches at 11 as Wakefield smacks his birdie putt long at the 12th. Here's Henrik Stenson on 14 and his par putt lips out - he's back to +10. Furyk of America is the current clubhouse leader on 10 over.

1645: Norman lazers his tee shot straight down the middle of the 11th. Careless from Poulter, coming up miles short with his pitch at 15. He has to make his charge, and he could do without mistakes like that. He leaves his birdie putt a few feet short and that's a chance gone, he could, and perhaps should, have joined the leaders there.

1642: Norman was standing over that clutch putt at 10 for what seemed like an age, the wind whistling through that still golden hair of his, but he held his nerve. Poulter gives it a rip with his second on the 15th and he's got a great line in. Wakefield stays within one stroke of the lead with a par at the 11th. It's heating up out there... Jim Furyk hasn't fallen through the trapdoor just yet, magnificent bunker shot at 18 and he'll have a birdie putt to finish on nine over.

1637: Poulter is two under for his last 11 holes and he'll be eyeing that leaderboard like a man with a connecting flight to catch going down the final few holes. Drama on the 10th green - Harrington's birdie putt ducks right at the last second and his ball moves slightly after he's marked it. A referee quickly adjudges that nothing untoward has gone on... to be honest, as drama goes, it was more Heartbeat than Sopranos. Norman pulls his par putt at 10 to drop back to seven over, while Harrington sticks his in from six feet to regain a share of the lead.

1635: Poulter makes his ball scream on the 15th tee, he's absolutely piled into that and that's safely on the fairway. Norman's third shot at the 10th isn't much to write home about and he's got a 20-footer for par.

1631: Norman, looking to hook round the bush blocking his path, gets too much bend and lands his ball in the gallery. Not a bad finish from there. Harrington gets his approach to within 20 feet. Here's Chris Wood knocking in for par at 14 and he remains 10 over. Wakefield with a fairly mediocre approach to the 11th, he'll have to perform miracles to pick up a shot.

1628: Wood goes long and wide with his par putt at 14, that's a nasty one to save par. Norman has a decent enough lie apparently, the wheels still firmly in place. I might have been given some duff information - just seen Norman's lie on TV and, although he can get a clean strike, he's got a dirty great gorsebush about six feet ahead of him. Poulter rolls one close at 14 and he should make par to stay two off the lead.

1625: Wakefield drops a shot at the 10th, he was about two feet short with a tentative prod for par. Poulter gives his tee shot at 14 some tap and he finds the edge of the green. Norman pulls out the big stick at 10 and pulls it way left, there's a suspicion that's skipped up a hillock behind the gallery. Harrington pulls his tee shot left as well, but his ball finds the path - he'll have a far easier shot in.

1624: Norman snatches the outright lead with a slippery little par putt at 9. He's six over at the turn, one ahead of Harrington and Wakefield of England. That's a choker for Poulter - he stiffs a very makeable birdie putt at 13 and stays two off the lead.

1620: Wood does well to recover at 13, but he'll still drop another stroke and fall back to +10. Norman leaves his lengthy birdie putt short on the 9th and that's a little tester he's got to save par. Anthony Kim, the coming man of American golf, drops a shot at 11 to slip back to +9. Harrington pulls his par putt left at 9 and that's three bogeys in a row for the Irishman. Padraig out in 37, +3 for his round and +7 for the tournament.

1618: Young amateur Wood is falling apart down the back straight - his bunker escape at 13 skews off his club and into some wispy stuff. Harrington has come up well short with his chip at 9 and he'll have a stinking 20-footer to save par.

1615: Poulter threads his tee shot at 13 straight down the middle and follows up with a jamspangler of an approach - Poulter has the eye of the tiger, just when everyone around him appears to have developed eyes of kittens. Wood finds another trap with his tee shot at 13. Harrington goes off back-right of the 9th green, while Norman just skips on the front.

By Andrew McKenzie

1610: It is time for me to hand over to Ben Dirs, who will be your guide for the final few hours here. What an absolute stormer of a finish we have, with 11 men within four shots of each other at the top. With shots being shipped left, right and centre the Claret Jug could be going anywhere.

1608: The momentum could be with Poulter at the moment and he shows trademark confidence in ramming home for par on the 12th after a decent chip.

1605: Norman produced a beauty from the rough at 8 and he rolls up a birdie putt to a few inches away for a decent par. All of a sudden it is Harrington who is looking jerky as he pokes his short par putt weakly wide. He joins Norman on +6 and the top of the leaderboard is getting tighter than a Birkdale fairway.

1604: A great recovery from Wood. He looks the business this boy and he splashes out to within tapping in distance from the stick. He'll drop a shot but it could have been a lot worse.

1602: An awful lie for Chris Wood in the bunker at the 12th and he is forced to spread out that 6ft 5in frame into an unlikely position. He fails to get out first time. A big test for the young man.

"No Greg (see 1546), me too, but I've complained of feeling unwell to get back home for the back nine, is that wrong?" Mike via text

It's the only decent thing to do Mike. No-one should be missing this for shopping

1557: Another wild one off the tee from Norman at the 8th. He grips and rips but it's ugly and he's heading back into the thick stuff again.

1556: Ian Poulter's putter is hot as he knocks in a second birdie in three holes with a short one at 11. Poulter's pumped - he fancies this one all right.

1554: Sergio Garcia's challenge has faded out as he drops five shots in his first four holes of the back nine to leave him way back on +14.

1551: The galleries erupt as Norman nails his knee trembler at the 7th. He's within one of Harrington now.

1550: Harrington misreads his par putt at 7 and that's a first dropped shot of his round.

1548: Norman's trousers are being blown all over as he prepares his chip. It takes more than 30mph winds to disturb the Shark and he lands it to within about 3ft short of the hole.

1547: Good chip from Harrington from the rough stuff and he'll have a putt of around 7ft for his par.

1546: "Am I the only bloke being dragged round the shops relying on BBC mobile to stay in touch with the golf?" Greg via text on 81111

"Paul Casey was all smiles while talking to the media after walking off the 18th. I would be too after a 70. Like Westwood, he said it was the hardest back-to-back four rounds that he has played while adding that his putting had let him down this week. 'My game is very good, I just have to hole more putts.'"
BBC Sport's Mark Orlovac at Royal Birkdale

1543: Norman sniffs a chance at the 7th but he can't capitalise as his five iron follows Harrington's into the rough. It's not nearly as bad as the Irishman's but it's a chance missed.

1540: The leaderboard is chopping and changing all the time as shots go begging all over Birkdale. Harrington has been one of the few to look unaffected but after six straight pars he smacks his tee shot at the 7th into the crowd. Make no mistake, there are plenty of twists and turns to come.

1537: Chris Wood's is a bit over confident with his birdie at the 10th as it slips past the hole and gives him a tester for his par, which he passes with top marks. Meanwhile Simon Wakefield slips back to +7 after a poor par putt.

1536: Harrington has a birdie putt at the 6th but in truth it's one of those where you are looking to get down in two. He comes up short, but follows it up with a solid par putt. Norman's nerves hold up from 8ft but he cards a bogey to drop to +6.

1534: There is no sign of Chris Wood crumbling under the pressure as he slides his second under the wind and on to the green at the 10th. He'll have another stab at a birdie there that would take him to +6.

1532: Norman is 140 yards from the pin but his eight iron is at least a club short as he is shy of the green. he's going to lose another shot here.

1529: Norman has tracked down his wayward drive at the 6th but it's buried right in the jungle. He uses every inch of those biceps to thrash it out and it's landed quite nicely in the semi rough. Harrington, from the centre of the fairway powers his second to just short of the green. On this most brutal of holes he'll take that any day of this week.

1527: There was a lot of talk before the round about KJ Choi's ability to handle the pressure, but he's in meltdown mode at the moment. His par putt at the 6th never looks like going in and he's +4 for the day, +8 for the tournament.

"I said on Friday that I fancied Padraig Harrington to defend his title and I think I will be proved right."
Colin Montgomerie after his closing 76 saw him finish on +18

1524: Well we thought it would be a story if Greg Norman won. How about a Chris Wood victory? Another birdie at the 9th and he's out in a one-under 33. He's only three off the lead, having negotiated some of the trickier of Birkdale's holes.

1521: Padraig Harrington's second shot at the 5th finds the green but towards the back to give him a very tricky putt of 40ft or so. No worries for the big Irishman as he judges it to perfection. Norman has an outside chance of a birdie, putting from the short stuff but can't convert and that's another par for Greg. Just what he needed.

1519: We've not seen much from Ian Poulter so far but he almost holes his approach at the 9th. Chris Wood is having the time of his life out there and goes even closer.

"It was a pretty exciting finish. Playing in the Open is like nothing that you can imagine, you cannot put it into words. Just to come here and experience this makes me want to come back next year." Amateur Thomas Sherreard after finishing 14 over

1509: Norman's long putt for a birdie is a good one but just slips by. Harrington gets a good look at the line but fails to take advantage with a weak one.

"In the heat of the Open, carding a 64 or a 65 today will be a tall order although I had three three-putts and shot 67 so that goes to show what can be done. The rain has dampened things, the balls are stopping on the greens, they're not as quick and the balls won't be moving. It might dry out a bit for the leaders but all in all I think it's a slightly easier test." England's David Howell

1507: KJ Choi is shelling shots all over the shop and misses a tiddler for par at the 5th to drop to +7. Wakefield is well up this battle and he holes a birdie to join Norman on +5.

1505: The champion is looking just champion as a smooth-as-you-like four iron off the 4rd tee is dead on the pin. It pulls up 15ft short and he'll fancy a pop at that one for a birdie. Norman responds with a decent four iron of his own that just lands about 15ft short.

1502: Great work from Harrington at the 3rd. He has a horrible stance in the bunker but splashes out well and then holes a long par putt. He's piling the pressure on his playing partner and Norman misses his 10ft putt for par. The 2007 champion is into the lead on his own.

1500: A birdie for Sergio Garcia at 9 takes him to +9 again, but he will need to break out the fireworks on the back nine.

1458: What a finish by English amateur Thomas Sherreard as he follows his eagle at 17 with a long birdie at the last. He's in the clubhouse on +14, good enough for a tie for 29th and that's likely to improve as the day goes. That puts a bit of pressure on Chris Wood, but he goes and plops in his birdie shot at the 7th to go back to +8.

"That was something else. The roar as Greg Norman, then Padraig Harrington, arrived at the first tee was incredible. As each player stepped on the box the crowd in the stands rose as one. Hairs standing up on the back of your neck time. Harrington drilled his shot down the fairway and you could hear a pin drop as Norman stepped up to his ball. Unfortunately, Norman heard something a bit more than that and backed off, firing an angry glare in the direction of the sound. The tension was unbearable. Eventually, after what seemed like ages, he fired his tee shot off too. The warriors then trundled off, followed by an army of officials, scorers, referees, photographers and press men. I don't know how they all fit inside the ropes." BBC Sport's Mark Orlovac at Royal Birkdale

1452: Simon Wakefield has picked out a spectator in the crowd. A balding fella takes the brunt on his bonce. BBC Sport's Clare Balding (no relation) checks if he's OK and gives everyone the thumbs up.

1451: Norman may be rattling early on but Chris Wood is looking solid as his surname suggests. He's just one over today and lands a nice fading tee shot on the 7th into the middle of the dancefloor.

1449: The wind looks like it is picking up as Harrington almost loses his balance hitting his tee shot at the 3rd. He lands in the rough but skips on and should be OK.

1447: Norman misses his par putt and that's the lead gone in two holes. Him and Harrington are level at the top of the leaderboard on +4.

1444: Birdie chances for KJ Choi and Harrington. Choi's is on line but doesn't have the legs, while Harrington's is even closer.

"I worked as a steward at Turnberry in 1986 when Greg Norman won his first Open. The weather then was almost identical on all four days as this year. So who would bet against the big man?" brightzaraerin on 606
Join the debate

1442: Norman fires his second shot at the 2nd left of the green. He stays out of the traps but will have a tricky little chip.

1438: Blimey. Paul Casey holes his approach from the rough on the 15th for an eagle and then Thomas Sherreard does likewise on the 17th when his pitch bounces, hits the pin, drops next to the hole and then spins in. Shades of Justin Rose at the 18th in 1998. The English amateur is +15.

1436: The leader is wayward off the tee at the 2nd. All of a sudden he's looking like Nervous Norman. Meanwhile Ben Curtis misses a tiddler for par and he's back to +8.

1435: Wakefield sees a weak birdie chance shy by and that's a par on the 2nd.

1434: "I just walked past the attractive, yet mature, Mrs Norman, aka Chris Evert whilst she was being pursued by a BBC camera crew (see 1417). Off camera she looked extremely pensive which isn't surprising given the abysmal record her husband has when leading going into the final round of a major. Also saw Hansen and Dalglish again, there are absolutely everywhere." BBC Sport's Mole at Royal Birkdale

1433: Norman's putt looks good but squeezes just right of the hole. That's a dropped shot and his lead is halved.

1432: Norman gives it a thwack out of the sand but he can only find the front of the green and he's got 20ft or so to save par.

1430: Harrington brings the crowd to life with a beauty of a pitch to within inches. He could knock it in with his nose, but chooses to use his putter and that's a tidy par for the Irishman.

1427: Harrington is way short of the green on the 1st with his second shot, while Norman is not the first to find the bunker at the front right of the green. this 1st hole has proved a killer today.

1424: Wakefield and KJ Choi both miss close ones for pars at the first 1st, leaving Harrington on his own in the second place.

1420: Harrington is safe as houses as he puts his iron off the tee into a decent position in the semi stuff. A bit of a delay as Norman is distracted by something behind him. No drama for the old fella as he is smooth as you like - dead middle of the fairway.

1419: A sad moment as Ivor Robson, the voice of the Open and 'the real voice of golf' according to Peter Alliss, is seen and heard for the last time at Birkdale this year.

1418: KJ Choi almost holes his long pitch into the green, but he should tap in for par.

1417: As Greg Norman arrives at the 1st tee, further ahead Wakefield fails to take advantage of his good fortune and he is way off target with an approach shot.

"Here comes Mr Chris Evert. In 1986 Greg Norman led going into the final round of all the majors. Who would have thought at the age of 53 he'd be here?" BBC Sport's golf commentator Andrew Cotter

"I'm just trying keep him calm and relaxed. Just take all the time in the world today and be yourself out there. I'm stunned at this and I hope, win or lose, he has a good day. He's such a great businessman and he's become more relaxed. He's definitely the hardest working person I've ever met." Mrs Norman, Chris Evert, talking to BBC Sport

1410: Simon Wakefield looks a touch anxious as his tee shot on the 1st drifts left. Looks like he's landed a decent lie though. KJ Choi looks composure personified as he drills off but it is off right. Far from position A from the Korean.

"If Chris Wood wins the Open as an amateur, could Nick Faldo select him for the Ryder Cup as a captains' pick? Finn Dodd, Hampshire, via text on 81111

1408: KJ Choi arrives at the 1st in preparation of his 1410 tee off. He looks ice cool and is milking some generous, but richly deserved applause. It's as if he's just turned up to play an exhibition game.

1402: Ross Fisher gets his first round off and running with a tidy tee shot down the 1st. He's one of not-so-famous five Englishmen very handily placed for a final day push. If you're checking us out on the web then we have a little guide to the home hopes.
The English challenge

By Ben Dirs

1354: Storm and Stenson kick off with bogey fives and both are now +10. Horrible stance for Poulter on the 2nd and his chip rolls 15 feet past the hole. The Englishman is danger of dropping another shot. Nicely-judged putt from Goosen at 5 after an ordinary seven-iron approach. Garcia's caddy Glen Murray gets down on his knees and lines up his master's putt as if he praying to Allah, but no deity in the world can help you out if you don't give your ball enough of a tap - another one comes up short and Garcia's challenge is failing to sprout wings. The Spaniard is +10. Poulter does well to save par at the 2nd, as does English amateur Wood.

1346: Storm, like many before him, finds the bunker to the front right of the 1st green. Three-time major winner Ernie Els doffs his cap and soaks up some generous applause from the galleries surrounding the 18th. He's +12, but is one under for the day. Poulter snags his approach at the 2nd left. Els joins Howell and Hansen as a clubhouse leader on +12, and he's the only player so far to record two sub-par rounds this week. Allenby gives back a shot at the 2nd to fall back to eight over.

"The whole island of Ireland woke up tense today, there's no way he can win it twice in a row, is there? Good luck Padraig!" gstonesunited on 606

1343: Garcia really struggling with the course at the moment. He finds some scrub to the front left of the 4th green and chips about 20 feet past. Crackerjack escape from Wood at the 1st, but Poulter sends his par putt sailing by the hole. Ballsy save from Garcia at the 4th, but Goosen's challenge is fading, he makes bogey after a clumsy chip to fall back to +11. Robert Karlsson of Sweden joins David Howell as a clubhouse leader on +12 after a 69.

1340: Poulter judges his chip across the 1st green well and he's got every chance of making par. Robert Allenby of Australia moves up to +7 after a birdie at the 1st. Graeme Storm of England slaps his tee shot down the middle at the 1st, he's eight over.

1336: That's not great from Poulter, he does exactly the same as Goosen and Garcia before him and finds jungle short and right of the green. Wood finds the pot bunker protecting the front right. Poulter in pastel pink bell-bottoms today. If on Friday he looked like Cybil Fawlty, today he resembles 70s detective Jason King.

1332: Here's Poulter on the 1st and he pulls out an iron and drills one down the middle. English amateur Chris Wood, with a swing like a swaying willow, follows him down the fairway with a three wood. Goosen makes par at 3 while someone wants to ask Sergio if his husband plays - yet another birdie putt runs out of gas and he too stays +10.

1327: First sight of the Shark on the practice ground, and he's showing few outward signs of nerves. Mike Weir of Canada slides a birdie putt at 7 into the tradesmans' and he's +12. Mickelson's rather ambivalent relationship with the Open continues, he's in with a 71 for 14 over overall. Only seven birdies all week for the world number two, and he normally has birdies on toast with his breakfast every morning.

1321: Furyk gets lucky at 3, the ball skipping over the lip of the bunker and curling into the middle of the green. Sergio makes his clutch putt at 2 and Goosen follows him in. There was a time when you could have used Goosen's putter as a branding iron, but he's not what he was on the greens.

"He's very close to perfect with his swing, he's the best practicer in the game and it's the best I've seen Padraig hitting the ball. He has no weak parts of his game - he's strong, he doesn't suffer from nerves and he should win it, although that's not to say he will win it."
Padraig Harrington's swing doctor Bob Torrance

1319: Garcia leaves his long, snaking putt at the 2nd well high and he'll have a nasty little beggar for par. Goosen doesn't read his long one either and will also have a tester to stay at +10.

1315: Goosen both comes up short with his six iron into the 2nd green before Garcia drills his approach through the breeze and over the back. Both will have to work a miracle to make birdie. Casey misses his birdie attempt at 9 and stays +13. Has really struggled to thaw out his putter this week.

1313: That's a peach of an approach from Villegas into the 5th as Adam Scott of Australia moves back to 12 over with a fine birdie putt at 7.

1310: Garcia puts some serious manners on his tee shot at 2, his ball won't be answering back for a few holes. Goosen also finds the fairway with his drive. The sun is out in Southport as Casey floats another crackerjack iron shot into the 9th green.

European Down
1307: Tom Lehman in for birdie at 3 and he's nine over. Garcia bogeys the 1st for the third time this week, his lengthy putt pulling up short. The Grand Prix is finished - congratulations Lewis Hamilton, he leads after three laps... Goosen also misses his par putt at the 1st and, like Garcia, drifts to +10.

"I really like the chances of Davis Love today. Get on Davis at 125-1 while you can folks, the odds will come a-tumbling." VeniceBeach on 606

1300: Goosen pushes his approach into some nasty stuff next to the 1st green... and Garcia, lemming-like, follows him in. McDowell misses a short one for par at 13 and slips back to +13. The German Grand Prix is about to kick off. If you like engines and oil and Munchkin-like men with impossibly good-looking girlfriends, we've got live updates on our website.

1257: Justin Leonard unfurls a fine approach at 2 - he's playing with another former champion and fellow American Todd Hamilton. Furyk pulls his par putt at the 1st to drop back to 10 over. McDowell of Ulster puts his chip close at 13.

1255: Sergio Garcia pings his tee shot straight down the middle on the 1st. That's a settler. Two-time US Open champion Retief Goosen is next on tee and he, too, finds the middle of the fairway. Goosen may be in contention for a major, but he'll stroll around today as if he's shopping for ceiling tiles at B&Q.

"Please explain to Ben Dirs the difference between a comma and a full stop. His lazy punctuation spoils his writing!" Anon via text

"England's Phillip Archer is the latest player to brave the line of autograph hunters near the clubhouse. He politely takes every single programme, cap or book thrust in his direction and signs away. However, he conveniently ignores the request from two youngsters who ask him whether he has a spare glove to give away."
BBC Sport’s Mark Orlovac at Royal Birkdale

1250: Immelman comes up short with his tee shot at the par-three 4th. Casey's line is perfect on the 7th tee, but his birdie putt is scared of the dark and dribbles left. He stays +13.

1246: Jim Furyk, who looks like he's swinging a liquorice shoe-lace, yanks his tee shot left on the first. The American, normally super reliable, is nine over. Paul Casey is putting a cracking round together, he's one under after six, but he's still +13.

1243: Van de Velde finishes with a level-par 70 to finish 13 over. A darkly comic scene at Liverpool Street station yesterday morning: four middle-aged women wearing pink wigs and Race For Life t-shirts with the legend Together We can Beat Cancer - and all five of them smoking tabs... tremendous...

1238: Villegas and Anders Hansen pepper the flag with their approaches at 2. Villegas rolls in for birdie and he rises to 10 over. Van de Velde dropped a shot at 17 but that's a doozy of an approach into the 18th green, he'll have a putt to finish on +13. Anders Hansen follows Villegas in on the 2nd to move to nine over.

1233: Birdie for Masters champion Trevor Immelman and he's now 10 over par. Casey flexes his guns and absolutely ding-dongs his tee shot down the 499-yard par-four sixth. Casey was the longest driver over the first three rounds at 315 yards. The wind playing havoc as Casey stands over his approach sho, but when he does hit it it's an absolute jaffer of a five iron, a low draw that finishes 10 feet from the flag. One of the best shots I've seen all week.

"As you would imagine, setting up a venue to host the Open championship is a huge logistical exercise. I've just been speaking to a Royal Birkdale staff member and he told me it would be 'around a month' before the site has been completely cleared. The Royal Birkdale championship office, it sounds grand but is actually a portable cabin next to the clubhouse, was set up in October last year – with stands, tents, marquees and scoreboards being slowly built since then.

"Apparently, the club is open for the members on Tuesday and if I was lucky enough to be one, I would get out there as soon as possible so I could play in front of the empty stands pretending to be Greg Norman. In all honesty, I would probably doff my cap to the imagined applause from the crowd as I walked up the last as well. OK, that could be a little sad, but tell me you wouldn’t do the same.”
BBC Sport’s Mark Orlovac at Royal Birkdale

1230: Els lets out a strangled "no!" after his approach into the 13th green, but his ball flirts with the green-side bunker and curls back onto the putting surface.

"The wind's switched across the course which has made it a bit easier. It's still not easy, but it's certainly not the brute it's been at times over the last couple of days. I'm slowly but surely turning things round. I haven't played great but I'm making a few cuts and this will probably be my best Open finish."
Swindon's David Howell on BBC Sport

1225: McDowell of Northern Ireland rolls in is out in 34, he's +12. Casey leaves his birdie putt at 5 just high, but he rolls in for par. Villegas pulls his birdie putt at the 1st to stay at +10.

"David Duval came to have a chat after his round of 71 - a good recovery after Saturday's 83 - and reckons he's pretty much back in the game after his years in the wilderness: 'If anything, I hit the ball better yesterday than I did today, but anything that could go wrong did.'

"Up close, I was surprised how muscled he looks. His 'guns' are huge. But despite only standing about two feet away from him, I couldn't quite see behind those shades to peer into his eyes. He's an enigma, for sure. But he also said that he wants to get back on the Ryder Cup team and wants to be captain one day. 'I make no bones about it. I think it's a great event,' he said. I wonder what he'd be like as captain?"
BBC Sport's Rob Hodgetts at Birkdale

1220: Here's the Most Handsome Man In Golf, Colombia's Camilo Villegas, and that's a peach of an approach at 1. He's playing with Anders Hansen of Denmark. Paul Casey still grinding away and that's a beautiful punched iron into the heart of the fifth green - keeping it under the wind, which has got up over the last 30 minutes or so.

1216: France's Jean van de Velde rolls in a biggun at 16 to move to one under for the day and +13 overall. Ferocious fist-pump from Jean, this still means a lot to him. England's David Howell muffs a five-footer at the last for bogey, a round of 67 and +12 for the tournament - the Ryder Cupper is clubhouse leader. Former champion David Duval of America has carded a very respectable 71 to finish 16 over.

1214: Gregory Norman has only won one major out of seven when leader or joint leader going into the final round - The Open in 1986. Oh, hello! There's Ernie Els, and he's all over the flag with his tee shot at the par-three 12.

By Andrew McKenzie

1211: BBC One's coverage has switched to the action on the course and it is time for me to hand over to Ben Dirs for a couple of hours.

1207: David Howell is on the move, courtesy of a major slice of good fortune at the 17th. His approach flirts with the front bunker but then gets a tasty little bounce and finishes up pin high. He pops the eagle putt in and all of a sudden he's on four under for the day.

1203: "Greg doesn't look very rusty out there. In these conditions you have to have imagination and with Padraig playing with Greg in the final group we could have some great drama."
Mark O'Meara, winner of the Open at Birkdale in 1998

1200: A few players are posting some reasonable numbers today, but we haven't really got anyone threatening to get on the leaderboard. I think we've got a key hour coming up, with the pairing of Sergio Garcia and Retief Goosen at 1255 BST catching the eye.

1156: A birdie at 15 put David Howell on two under for his final round and with a decent birdie chance at 17 ahead of him he has a shot at the best round of the day.

1155: Thomas Sherreard has reached the 5th hole in one over for the day and 13 over for the tournament. He's Chris Wood's only challenger for the Silver Medal as best amateur.

1154: A quick word about Jean Van der Velde. The Frenchman is level par heading down the 15th hole and 14 over for the tournament. A good performance after coming through qualifying.

1151: "Jim Furyk's just run the gauntlet of the autograph hunters. There's a road crossing which they rope off when the players walk from their hospitality tent to the clubhouse and is pretty much the only time they're 'in the open' to bag a signature. Furyk breezed through at a rate of knots while munching on a sandwich (bad for the indigestion, that). Someone shouted 'Good luck Jim'. He just nodded. Whether that was because he is already in the zone or just had his mouth full is open to debate."
BBC Sport's Rob Hodgetts at Royal Birkdale

1147: "It may have been a disappointing campaign for Lee Westwood but he was in chipper mood as he came off the 18th after carding a final-round 73, his best round of the week. He received a warm reception as he walked up onto the green and afterwards he said he knew exactly where his campaign went wrong. 'I can handle the weather,' said Westwood. 'But I was beaten up by the putter.'

"Meanwhile, fellow Englishman Justin Rose knows who he wants to win the Claret Jug this year. 'I'll be rooting for Greg,' he said after a 73. 'I think everyone will be rooting for him, it would be cool for him to end his career with this.'"
BBC Sport's Mark Orlovac at Royal Birkdale

1146: Colin Montgomerie's outside hopes of getting in amongst the leaders has not got off to the start he would have wanted as his bogeys the 1st hole.

1144: Phil Mickelson has started his back nine with a par on the 10th. He reached the turn in 36 after bogeys at the 3rd and 6th to leave him on 15 over.

1141: A bogey five at the 10th has seen Paul Waring slip back to 12 over.

1137: "He's feeling good. He's done a beautiful job I'd say. His mindset was to prepare himself to win last night so he can just go out, play shots and get it in the hole. For a long time he has let go of his swing thoughts on the golf course. He sees his target and hits it."
Bob Rotella, Padraig Harrington's psychologist.

1133: Graeme McDowell is also on 11 over after a birdie at the 4th hole, while Ernie Els and Robert Karlsson are putting together decent front nines - both one under for the day going down the 9th.

1131: Back out on the course and Paul Waring has just picked up a birdie on the 9th to move back to two under for today. The young Englishman went out in 32 and is 11 over for the tournament.

1129: Carmilo Villegas has just been talking to BBC Sport from the practice ground. He looks as cool as a Moscow winter. Here's his thoughts: "These are the worst conditions I've ever played in in terms of strength of winds, but it tests you as a golfer and hopefully we can put in a good one today."

1128: "I spent most of last year at Carnoustie staring out of the studio window at the lashing rain and wind buffeting an ice cream van on the otherside of the 18th fairway. In four days the poor soul can't have sold more than three lollies and a twister. Things have been pretty similar to that this year and the company who sell ice cream on course here apparently lost £10,000 in one day. Ouch. On the other hand the people who run the coffee and tea stands can probably retire off their profits."
BBC Sport's Mole from Royal Birkdale

1122: "Just grabbed a word with Birkdale assistant pro Michael Lyon who played as a marker alongside Singapore's Lam Chih-Bing in the first group. Lyon missed out a couple of holes through marking duties but reckons he was two over for the other 16. Lam, meanwhile, shot 81.

"'I really enjoyed it," he said. 'It was a great, once-in-a-lifetime experience. I was so calm on the first tee and I felt really relaxed all the way around, apart from going down 18. The tee shot was OK but then you look up at the stands and think 'wow'.

"Lyon has been the head assistant at Birkdale for eight years, absolutely loves his job, and has a best score of 68 around here. 'Not great, but it means I can hit it, anyway,' he said.

"He tried to qualify for the Open but 'failed miserably'. His money was on Sergio at the start but he reckons it's now wide open. 'There's a score out there,' he said. 'But now I've got to go and do my day job and serve in the shop. Hopefully, we'll get out to see the boys battle it out at the end'."
BBC Sport's Rob Hodgetts from Royal Birkdale

1119: Any player with hopes of a charge for the title will be buoyed by the performance of Thomas Aiken. He's carded a 68 and is in the clubhouse with a score of 16 over after four birdies and two bogeys. A cracking round from the South African - the best since Friday.

1113: Nick Faldo is not ruling out any of the boys on 10 over par, which includes a trio of former champions in Tom Lehman, Justin Leonard and Todd Hamilton. Colombian Camilo Villegas is also in there.

1108: It's not all about the Open Championship today. Well it is, but there's also some cricket going on as well. Mark Mitchener is on top of all the goings on over at Headingley as England and South Africa battle it out in the 2nd Test.
England v South Africa

"There is a river of people streaming through the front gate into Royal Birkdale now. It's going to be a bumper day. There have been a few light showers this morning but they are not prolonged. In fact it seems positively summery compared to Thursday. Just seen Davis Love strolling out of the clubhouse in shades and ice white slacks. Very smart. He tees off at 1310 BST. Former champion Mark O'Meara may have missed the cut but he has just arrived to watch the final round."
BBC Sport's Mark Orlovac at Royal Birkdale

"Yesterday I was talking about a 10-way tie on five under for the lead. I'm going to pick six or seven over to win because it's still blowing hard. It's not a day for rounds of 65."
Nick Faldo on BBC One

1100: The BBC's TV coverage is under way. Gary Lineker opens with: "They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks." The anticipation is building. how's your nerves?

"Regarding the last time five English players finished in the top 15 of an Open - I think you have to go right back to 1969, the year Tony Jacklin won. Neil Coles, Guy Wosltenholme and Tommy Horton all also finished in the top 15, as well as a certain Peter Alliss, who shot a 66 in the final round. There were only 12 American pros in the field that year, though!"
Peter_Dennis on 606
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"I would love to see Greg win but I think it will be a Harrington wrist collapse, followed by a Norman mental collapse, leaving 'Cagey' Choi the winner."
Richard in Fife, via text

1055: Justin Rose's miserable return to Birkdale, scene of his heroics 10 years ago, is over. He finishes with a round of 73 that featured three birdies and six bogeys. A score of 21 over is probably not what he had planned at the start of the week, or what he had in mind after lying in contention on six over at the halfway stage come to think of it.

1053: Paul Waring's good start hit a bump with a bogey at the 5th and he is back to 12 over par.

"We still have probably the second best golfer behind Tiger with a chance of winning? Today could be Poulter's chance to actually step up to the plate and show if he can really cut it? So many choices and possible winners I just hope another European wins it."
Brocky35 on 606
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1047: Lam Chih-bing's Open has come to an end, finishing with three pars in an otherwise forgettable final round. He finishes with a total of 311, which is 31 over par for the tournament for the Singapore swinger.

1041: Contrasting fortunes for former champions as a birdie at the 4th hole puts Ernie Els under par for today but David Duval has dropped two shots in three holes to slip back to level for the round.

1038: Graeme McDowell has his final round under way with a par at the 1st. He's 12 over after finishing with two double bogeys in the last three holes last night.

1034: There has been a bit of early chat in our office about Greg Norman and his past history at closing out major wins. The word choker was mentioned, although it was also pointed out he has a couple of Open victories to his name. Any thoughts? He certainly seems a bit more chilled about things these days. After yesterday's round he said: "I've got a very peaceful mind at the moment. I have just got to keep doing as we have been doing so far."

"I wouldn't like to play Birkdale in the recent conditions with a blister on my thumb, let alone a sprained wrist - Padraig will win it in a play-off with Choi."
starrey on 606
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1026: England's Richard Finch's good run came to an end with a triple bogey at the 10th. Bit of a shame after three birdies in six holes saw him reach the turn in 32.

"Never been this enthusiastic about the final day since, oh, a good 12 months ago for the last one! God I love this competition. Plenty of twists and turns lie ahead. I just hope the Shark can maintain his good form and not collapse, that would be a shame."
horsetipster on 606
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1019: Two birdies in three holes has moved England's David Howell to one under for the round. His compatriot Paul Waring has started with a bang with birdies at the 2nd and 3rd holes and is at 11 over for the tournament - good enough for a tie for 27th place.

1016: Thomas Aiken has the first blemish on his card as a bogey five at the 13th sees him drop back to 16 over.

1011: Justin Rose pops in a birdie at the long 15th. It is the first bit of joy on the back nine, however, as three bogeys mean he is now 21 over for the tournament.

A celeb has been spotted at Birkdale
1006: "Morning everyone. Beautiful day up here now although there are some of the biggest clouds I've ever seen brooding menacingly in the distance. What a day we have in store! For what it's worth (and that is absolutely nothing) I'd like Ross Fisher to win. Make sure you tune in when our TV coverage begins at 1100 BST. Ryder Cup skipper Nick Faldo will be in again to chew the fat with Gary Lineker."
BBC Sport's Mole at Royal Birkdale

1003: Compared to this time yesterday morning we are seeing some serious red numbers on the leaderboard. With early birdies, England's Paul Waring and Sweden's Robert Karlsson have joined David Duval, Richard Finch, David Howell and Thomas Aiken all under par for today's round.

"I'd love to see Norman win, but then I'm older than he is. So, no answers, but a question; when was the last time there were five English players in the leading 15 of the Open Championship?"
Streaten on 606
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Good question Streaten. for the record the Englishmen are Simon Wakefield, Ross Fisher, Chris Wood, Ian Poulter and Graeme Storm. Not the five you'd have probably gone for four days ago.

"The first three rounds have been great to watch and I haven't heard one 'get in the hole' on any of the par-five tees so far! C'mon Woody."
Parker from Halifax, via text on 81111

0953: Martin Kaymer's day is going seriously downhill. He's dropped seven shots in four holes as he reaches the turn in 41.

0948: Phil Mickelson has started his round with a par at the 1st hole. Next up on tee is Ernie Els. The Big Easy is also on 13 over and needing some major magic to have any chance of making a charge.

0944: Duval continues to go along very nicely. He parred the evil 6th and then follwoed that up with a par at the next. He stays at two under for the day. What a shame about that 83 yesterday.

0938: Westwood reaches the turn in 36. That's decent but it's five shots shy of Thomas Aiken managed. Three birdies in a row saw the South African produce a flawless front nine and he's gone on to par the 10th.

"KJ will win. I think I have backed him and Norman at odds of over 40-1 so I'll be happy either way. You can have another go next year Padraig. My mortgage needs paying!"
Luke in Cambridge, via text

It's the one they're calling the credit crunch Claret Jug.

0931: World number two Phil Mickelson is preparing to tee off his final round. At 13 over and 11 shots adrift of the leader he is perhaps a bit too far behind to challenge for his first Open title. But if anyone can go low and make a charge from left field it may be the man known as Leftie.

0926: Justin Rose is playing the 11th hole after reaching the turn in a highly respectable one over 35. Howvever, another young Englishman Nick Dougherty is not doing so well as he is three over through five holes. It's not the sort of form that is going to see me get a return on my wager that he would be in the top 10 this week.

"If Greg Norman wins it, that would surely be one of the greatest achievements in modern golf."
charleroidude on 606
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"This the day Greg Norman makes history and starts a cycle of the return of a aging Hero....Norman in 2008, Beckham in World Cup 2010, Chambers in the Olympics 2012."
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0919: Martin Kaymer's early progress is haltedb at the 6th hole with a double bogey.

0915: Duval is not the only one having some fun out there. Thomas Aiken is heading for a storming front nine. going down the 9th hole he is two under for the day after opening with six pars and then birdies at the 7th and 8th.

0914: Back to matters on the course and David Duval is on fire. Not literally of course. After his bogey at the opener he has three birdies in four holes and is back to 13 over. Great work DD.

0909: R&A chief executive Peter Dawson has just been on BBC Radio Five Live. Here's his take on the tournament so far:

On the weather:

"It's not as bad as yesterday but we have another testing day on an already tough links course. There was a point in the afternoon yesterday when the sun came out and the greens quickened when we were close (to a suspension of play) but we got through it."

On Greg Norman:

"Greg is so physically fit, his swing is the same and there is no sign of his putting stroke going. It certainly would be extraordinary if he won."

On the absence of Tiger Woods:

"It would be silly to say we're not missing him but we have an exciting tournament and the crowds are coming in. But we're looking forward to having him back next year."

0905: Lam Chih-bing has reached the turn. It's not pretty, it has to be said. He's eight over for the day and 28 over for the tournament.

0902: The news you have been waiting for: 606 is open for all your Open chat. Get chatting and I'll try and publish your pearls of wisdom.
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0855: "I've just been to the 18th, just to take it all in before the drama starts to unfold. There were plenty of groundstaff around doing their final preparations, raking bunkers and clearing debris from the fairway. In front of the clubhouse, five mowers were all arranged in an arc with their drivers on board as another took souvenir photos. The workman departed and the arena was deserted, becoming eerily silent. I counted 50 hardy souls in the grandstands overlooking the pristine green - they've got the best seats in the house. This place will be absolutely rammed in 10 hours or so when the Open winner is crowned. The stage is set."
BBC Sport's Mark Orlovac at Royal Birkdale

0850: Thomas Aiken, who scored 45 on his back nine yesterday, has outdone Martin Kaymer with pars at the first six holes. Is Birkdale in danger of being tamed?

0847: After consecutive bogeys at the 3rd and 4th Lee Westwood has carded only his second birdie since Thursday with a three at the 5th. Meanwhile, Australia's Brendan Jones has achieved the near-impossible with a birdie at the 6th hole. It's just the fourth score under par at the hole - where the pros are averaging 4.89 this week.

0845: Saying that, Germany's young star Martin Kaymer is having the reverse round to Rose as he has rattled off four consecutive pars at the start of his round.

0839: It is turning out to be an eventful round for Rose. Since a par at the 1st hole he has gone bogey-birdie-bogey-birdie-bogey-birdie-bogey. That's about as close to consistent golf as you get at Birkdale this week.

0836: David Duval, after bogeying the opener, gets in on the birdie act with a three at the 2nd hole. He's at 15 over now. After all of his problems it would be nice to see a good finish by the 2001 winner.

0829: It's a birdie barrage at brutal Birkdale as Phillip Archer only goes and cards a three at the 1st hole. It's only the 21st birdie there this week. Are the conditions getting easier or have the players finally acclimatised to playing in 30mph winds?

0824: After waiting so long for a birdie, Justin Rose has only gone and knocked in another one with a three at the fifth. He's back to 18 over and level for his fourth round.

0818: A word on English amateur Chris Wood, who is eight over and tees off at 1330 with Poulter. It has been a phenomenal performance so far from the 20-year-old, considering the horrendous conditions. He seems to be taking it in his stride, saying "Being on the 1st tee when your name is announced is daunting but once you are out there you don't think about anything."
Wood handles the pressure

"Nothing like a light breeze to separate the men from the Americans!"
David Taylor, York, via text on 81111

0815: Go Justin Rose. He picks up a first birdie in 27 holes with a three at the 3rd. Okay, so it is sandwiched by bogeys at the 2nd and the 4th but who is counting at this stage?

0811: On the subject of picking a winner, here's Peter Alliss's take:

Peter Alliss
"It's quite remarkable Greg Norman is here, looking so well and happy and there is no utter reason why he shouldn't win, but there's no reason why Harrington shouldn't or why someone doesn't do a Paul Lawrie and come from nowhere. But you have to say Padraig is favourite but there are so many permutations. I think were in for a cracking final.
BBC Sport's Peter Alliss

0807: The leading group do not start until 1420 BST, but there is plenty of interest before then. David Duval, who followed up his second-round 69 with an 83 yesterday, is about to tee off with England's Anthony Wall.
Final round tee times

0806: "In case you were wondering, the forward tee positions at six, 11 and 16 that we had yesterday will remain for the final round. The moves went down well with the players on Saturday and they will have a further spring in their step when they wake up to discover that hole 10, which was 408 yards, has also been moved to the forward tee. It is now 381 yards. So there we are then."
BBC Sport's Mark Orlovac at Royal Birkdale

0800: I told you our on course experts were fearless didn't I? I'm going to nail my colours to the mast as well and go for a Harrington victory. With all the drama so far it almost seems to have been forgotten that he was a massive doubt before the tournament with his wrist injury. Although, bearing in mind I had money on Angel Cabrera before the tournament starts, it would be fair to say I am clueless.

0759: "Lots of debate between Rob Hodgetts and I over dinner last night about who on earth is going to win this thing. To be honest, we haven't got a clue - this week has been so unpredictable. Some of the press guys are picking Padraig Harrington to retain the title. We're not though, we're mavericks. Hodgo is going for 2003 champion Ben Curtis while I'm thinking KJ Choi could nick it."
BBC Sport's Mark Orlovac at Royal Birkdale

0757: Lee Westwood has managed a par at the 1st hole for the first time this week. The brutal opener has cost him four shots this week.

0753: "Morning troops. We are off and running on the final day of this year's Open. Chih-Bing Lam starting in quite a heavy shower. Those clouds have now moved on and we have blue skies and sunshine. Still pretty windy, although not as bad as yesterday. Apparently sunshine and showers is going to be the story this morning. The Met Office forecast adds that this afternoon is going to be 'dry with lengthening sunny spells' with winds of 28mph and gusts of 38mph.

"So if you are coming to the course, make sure you bring some sunblock otherwise you may get caught out like the bloke I saw in a restaurant last night who had a face like a Ribena berry."
BBC Sport's Mark Orlovac at Royal Birkdale

0751: Another home hope that suffered on stormy Saturday was Lee Westwood and he has just teed off his final round.

0749: Justin Rose has got his fourth round up and running. After yesterday's 82 his hopes of a winning return to Birkdale are well and truly over. After parring the opening hole he's slipped another shot at the 2nd and he's at 19 over.

0746: Some early weather news. Apparently it is already blowing at 30mph up at Birkdale and is set to get worse later on. Looks like we can be expecting some high scores again. Our fearless fellas up in Birkdale - Rob 'Hodgo' Hodgetts and Mark 'Orlo' Orlovac will no doubt fill me in with a more accurate forecast in due course. How we Brits love a bit of weather chat eh?

0742: Not a good start from Lam Chih-Bing as he cards a bogey at the 1st and then a triple bogey at the 2nd as he slips to 24 over for the tournament.

"Lam Chih-Bing is playing with a marker, Michael Lyon, the young head assistant pro from Royal Birkdale. Just before he teed off I asked him how he was feeling. 'I'm really, really looking forward to it. You'd be stupid not to really, wouldn't you?' he said. Nice swing, too. He got quite a cheer from the locals and even a cry of 'you're the man'. I wonder how many of the field he can beat today."
BBC Sport's Rob Hodgetts from Royal Birkdale

0721: But who is your money on? Let me know your thoughts on the likely winner or any other Open chat by texting us on 81111 or, after 0900 BST, you can get involved on 606.
Join the debate

0719: But there are plenty of players who will feel they are still well in contention, with the unlikely name of England's Simon Wakefield leading the home charge after a fine round of 70 yesterday. He is just three shots behind Norman, while Ross Fisher, Ian Poulter, amateur Chris Wood and Graeme Storm are all within striking distance.

0716: Lam Chih-bing is 20 over par after three rounds and I'm going to stick my neck out and say he's not going to be lifting the Claret Jug later today.

0710: It is over seven hours before Harrington and Norman get their rounds under way, but the fourth round is already up and running as Lam Chih-bing of Singapore tees off at the 1st.

0707: Welcome to our coverage of the final round of what has already been a hugely exciting Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.

A quick look at the leaderboard suggests we are only a few hours from history. Greg Norman is aiming to become the oldest winner of a golfing major, KJ Choi the first Asian player to win one, while Padraig Harrington is looking to be the first European to retain the Claret Jug for over a century.

see also
Open day four photos
20 Jul 08 |  Golf

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