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Page last updated at 14:27 GMT, Saturday, 19 July 2008 15:27 UK

Curtis makes light of gusty wind

Open Championship, Royal Birkdale, 17-20 July 2008
Live on BBC TV, BBCi, Radio 5 Live and BBC Sport website (UK only); Video highlights nightly on BBC Two and BBC Sport website

Ben Curtis
Curtis produced an excellent round despite the difficult conditions

Former Open champion Ben Curtis coped brilliantly with the blustery wind at Royal Birkdale to shoot a third-round par 70 and sit five off the lead.

Curtis, whose total of 217 puts him seven over par, was one of the few players not to be blown off course.

Fellow American Davis Love III and Sweden's Henrik Stenson also went round in 70 but many others suffered a day full of bogeys rather than birdies.

Sean O'Hair had started the day three over but fell away after carding 80.

Curtis got on the leaderboard with a three-under 31 on the front nine, including an eagle two at the third hole.

The 2003 champion turned away after hitting the shot but the wind blew it back on line - and right into the cup.

Gusts howling at more than 35mph made conditions especially challenging in the third round at the links course, already soaked by plenty of rain over the first two days.

Curtis admitted: "Today was more about staying patient, just hanging on for dear life.

"At the start of the day I didn't expect shooting level par would be near the lead. Now it will most likely be in the top five or 10.

"That is about as tough as I have played. I probably didn't hit it as well as yesterday or Thursday but the hardest part of the day was making putts.

"Par out there is anywhere from mid to high 70s."

Curtis' playing partner and world number two Phil Mickelson was impressed by his compatriot's round.

"I thought Ben Curtis played a great round of golf. His round was incredible," said the three-time major winner, who himself had a 76 to sit 13 over for the tournament.

"He hit a lot of great shots, a lot of great putts and to shoot even par in this weather, it's one of the better rounds I've seen."

American Rocco Mediate, who shot 76 to be eight over par for the tournament, six behind leader Greg Norman, praised the R&A for ensuring play could go on in difficult conditions.

Tee boxes at the sixth, 11th and 16th were moved forward at into-the-wind par fours.

Mediate said: "They set this place up perfectly today for these weather conditions, which were close to getting crazy. They did a tremendous job in making it so we were able to finish.

"They could have made it psycho but they did a great job."

see also
Open day three photos
19 Jul 08 |  Golf

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