The name Tiger Woods was back on the top of a leaderboard in the closing stages of a major as the 147th Open Championship headed for a barely believable climax on Sunday.
Chasing a 15th major title and his first since the 2008 US Open, Woods began the final round at Carnoustie four shots off the lead shared by defending champion Jordan Spieth, Kevin Kisner and Xander Schauffele.
But as his rivals felt the pressure of trying to claim one of golf’s biggest prizes, Woods looked close to his imperious best to move out in front in impressive fashion.
Birdies at the fourth and sixth took Woods to the turn in 34 and, at seven under par, one shot ahead of playing partner Francesco Molinari and Spieth, who had double-bogeyed the sixth after hitting his second shot into a gorse bush.
Molinari had reeled off 10 pars in a row, while England’s Eddie Pepperell was not heading home after a closing 67 set a testing clubhouse target on five under par.
Americans Kevin Kisner, Kevin Chappell and Xander Schauffele were also five under with nine to play, with Rory McIlroy a shot further back after a three-putt bogey on the 12th.
Woods underwent spinal fusion surgery in April last year and was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence the following month when he was found asleep at the wheel of his car.
The 42-year-old, who had five prescription drugs in his system, later pleaded guilty to reckless driving.
Woods only returned to competitive golf in November, but has recorded three top-five finishes on the PGA Tour this season.