Nine notable third-round stats from Golf World contributing writer Brett Avery, who compiles the Rank and File statistical sections for the magazine's major championship coverage. For more numbers throughout each round, follow him on Twitter (@BWAvery):
Thanks to slashing rain and gusting winds marring much of the 140th Open Championship, the third-round scoring average at Royal St. George's of 74.690 was appreciably higher than the first (72.032) and second rounds (72.974). The day's first six groups, teeing off between 8:55 and 9:45 a.m. (local time), averaged 77.182. The last six groups, including the top contenders, teed off between 2:15-3:05 p.m. and combined for 72.333. For 54 holes the field is at 72.908, nearly three strokes over par.
Scoring is going in the opposite direction from 2003, the last Open at St. George's, when the course played to a par of 71 (the fourth hole was a 5 despite virtually identical yardage). Scoring in '03 went from 76.455 Thursday to 75.151 Friday, falling to 72.573 for Saturday and 72.877 for Sunday. The week's average: 74.800. The only course more difficult on the PGA Tour in 2003 was Oak Hill CC, which hosted the PGA Championship (74.309 on a par-70 track). The toughest track so far this year on the PGA Tour was PGA National Champion (72.540, par 70).
Only one hole played under par in this year's third round: the 564-yard seventh (4.507). The hardest, the 495-yard fourth was an eye-popping 4.930 despite the R&A moving the tees forward by 26 yards. It was followed by the eighth (4.577), 18th (4.493) and third (3.437). None of the 71 players birdied the third, fourth, eighth or 18th and Darren Clarke made the lone 3 at No. 1.
The top 10's relation to par and World Ranking entering the Open: Clarke -5/111st; Dustin Johnson -4/12th; Rickie Fowler -2/52nd; Thomas Bjorn -2/80th; Miguel Angel Jimenez -1/28th; Lucas Glover -1/59th; Anthony Kim E/73rd; Phil Mickelson E/6th; Anders Hansen E/44th; George Coetzee E/126th; Davis Love III E/114th; Martin Kaymer E/3rd.
Tom Watson, 61, playing on the weekend for the 98th time in 133rd major starts, bore through the worst of the weather for his 72. He leap-frogged 20 players, placing T-25 at four-over 214. Watson hit only four fairways and nine greens but used 29 putts (one three-putt) and saved par once out of a greenside bunker.
For all of Watson's heroics, however, the round of the day was Fowler's 68. Going off at 12:35 p.m., he made only two bogeys (second, 11th) and birdied three of the last six. He hit eight fairways, 11 greens and took 27 putts, avoiding three-putts for a second straight day. He rose 16 spots on the scoreboard.
Five players age 40 or older remained in the top 10 and ties through 54 holes: Clarke (42), Bjorn (40), Jimenez (47), Mickelson (41) and Love III (47). Tom Lehman (52) was in the top 10 for some of the round but fell to 73 and a tie for 14th.
Clarke, in his 20th Open, made his major championship debut in 1991, as a 22-year-old at Royal Birkdale. He shot 79-67-68-73 and tied for 64th. Johnson turned 7 years old the previous month. Fowler was 31 months old.
Nine players failed to birdie any hole: Jimenez (72), Bo Van Pelt (73), Charles Howell III (73), Lucas Glover (73), Gary Boyd (76), Pablo Larrazabal (76), Fredrik Andersson Hed (77), Paul Casey (78), Jeff Overton (78). Gregory Havret made three birdies in the first 11 but made a 10 at the 14th. He shot 78.