Playing in the final group in a major for the third time in his career, this is easily Garcia's best chance to capture an elusive major championship. He's never led a major after 54 holes.
"It feels good to see the way I played today," Garcia said in his post-round press conference. "I'm looking forward to (Sunday). It's going to be a hard day but hopefully one to remember. I can't wait to start."
Garcia, who led by two shots after both the first and second rounds, pushed his advantage to three strokes as he moved to 9-under 204 with a bogey-free performance on Saturday. Now, only 18 holes separate the 27-year-old Spaniard from completing what would be an impressive wire-to-wire victory.
"It's definitely been tiring, but not only for me," Garcia said. "I think it's been tiring for everybody. Majors are always tiring, (but) I wouldn't change it for the world.
"There's nothing better than seeing your name on the top of the leaderboard day after day after day. I think it's great. I'm thrilled about it. I've just got to do it for one more day."
Garcia enters the final round with a three-shot lead over Steve Stricker, who used a dazzling display of putting to equal the course record at Carnoustie with a 7-under 64 to reach 6-under for the championship. Stricker, who was the PGA Tour's comeback player of the year in 2006, is coming off a 13th-place tie in the U.S. Open and appears to have revitalized his career.
"It was just one of those rounds where everything kind of went right and my putter felt really good," Stricker told reporters. "I've been spending a lot of time working on my putting. I gave myself a lot of opportunities today and I ended up making quite a few putts -- something that I haven't been doing as of late. Today they all seemed to go in."
Ernie Els heads a group of seven players tied for third at 3-under, including Chris DiMarco, Paul McGinley, Stewart Cink, Padraig Harrington, Paul Broadhurst and K.J. Choi. Five players are tied for 10th at 2-under, including Vijay Singh, Andres Romero, Jim Furyk, Mike Weir and Miguel Angel Jimenez.
Tiger Woods, bidding to become the first player to capture three consecutive Open championships in more than a half century, shot a third-round 69 and trails Garcia by eight shots. The world's No. 1-ranked player struggled with his control for the second consecutive round, hitting a 63-year-old female spectator in the head with a shot on the par-5 sixth hole, requiring her to get two stitches.
Although Woods has never come from off the pace to win a major, he isn't counting himself out quite yet. He noted that 1999 British Open champion Paul Lawrie overcame a 10-stroke deficit to force a playoff and win the Claret Jug eight years ago at Carnoustie.
"I've got to be playing a little better than I have been, that's for sure," Woods said. "But at least I gave myself a chance going into (Sunday). Paul came back from 10 back in '99. Certainly, you can do it around this golf course."
Garcia, who wilted while playing in the final group with Woods at last year's Open, said he isn't planning anything different for Sunday.
"I'm going to go out there and try to play my own game, just like I've been doing every single day and just believe in myself as much as possible," Garcia said. "That's the only thing I can do.
"The only thing I can do is control myself and that's about it. So I think if I am in control, the way I'm hitting the ball, it's right there for the taking. Hopefully it will be good enough."
Garcia said he'll do his best to relax before the final round.
"I'm looking forward to doing a little bit of stretching -- just calm myself down a little bit and looking forward to some of my mom's cooking, which is always nice," Garcia said. "And just watch a bit of TV with my family and my brother and sister and my parents and just relax. Just pretty much not think much about it."
July 22, 2007
With stellar play on the back nine at Royal Birkdale, Padraig Harrington shot a 69 in the final round to earn a four-shot victory and become Europe's first back-to-back British Open champion in more than a century. He earned nearly $1.5 million and climbed to No. 3 in the world rankings. "I'm really thrilled with the way I felt today on the golf course," Harrington said. "I hit the ball as pure as I could and just felt really good."
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