The entire field still harboured realistic hopes of glory as the third round of the 147th Open Championship got under way on Saturday.
Just nine shots separated the 79 players who made the halfway cut at Carnoustie, where Paul Lawrie famously came from 10 strokes back with just 18 holes to play to win the Claret Jug in 1999.
And there was more good news for the chasing pack in that Ben Hogan is the only Open winner at Carnoustie to have claimed victory after having held the lead following an earlier round.
Hogan was tied for the lead after 54 holes in 1953 before going on to lift the Claret Jug in his only appearance in the event, but the last two winners, Lawrie and Padraig Harrington, trailed by 10 and six strokes respectively after three rounds.
The odd number of players making the cut meant that Malaysia’s Gavin Green was accompanied by a marker, Keir McNicoll, a senior PGA assistant at Carnoustie Golf Links, as he struck the opening shot at 9:15am.
Masters champion Patrick Reed was in the second group out alongside Welsh qualifier Rhys Enoch and carded a hat-trick of birdies from the fifth to get back to level par.
England’s Justin Rose was also among the early starters after scraping into the weekend with a birdie on the 18th on Friday evening, the OIympic champion then starting round three in the same fashion and picking up another birdie on the par-five sixth.
With precious little wind the conditions were good for low scoring and 19-year-old Scot Sam Locke birdied the first and third before chipping in for another on the fourth.
As the only amateur to make the cut Locke, who works part-time at Lawrie’s golf centre in Aberdeen, is guaranteed to win the silver medal as long as he completes all four rounds.
The cut had fallen at three over par with the joint leaders, Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner on six under and not due out until 4pm.