Sizzling 66 puts charging Tiger in the British Open mix

The Open champion Francesco Molinari

The Open champion Francesco Molinari

The ensuing birdie ensured he became the first Italian to win a major.

Molinari ended the week at -8, and celebrated accordingly, pumping the air with his fist and allowing a huge smile of relief and excitement to play across his face.

They were together three weeks ago when Molinari closed with a 62 to win the Quicken Loans National, with Woods presenting him the trophy.

Woods made the most of his good fortune to make par.

A triumph for Woods would mark an astonishing turnaround after his career reached a new low past year when he was arrested and fined for reckless driving.

Tiger Woods of the U.S. celebrates a birdie on the 9th hole during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship in Carnoustie, Scotland, Saturday July 21, 2018.

Spieth made a bogey after a wayward drive.

But, Molinari wasn't the only story of the day.

Spieth's troubles started with a dropped shot at the fifth that was followed with an ugly double bogey at the next hole, hitting his tee shot into the spectators before finding a bush.

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But the 14-time major champion, wearing his famous Sunday red, also fell away just after the turn, while McIlroy - who has threatened a score in the mid-to-low 60s all week but always come up short - left it too late for his challenge and finished in a share of second with Schauffele, Justin Rose and Kisner.

Woods set the pulses racing among the record crowds at Carnoustie when, after starting the day four shots off the pace, he held the outright lead after turning in 34 as Jordan Spieth, Kevin Kisner and Xander Schauffele made a series of big mistakes on the outward nine.

Francesco Molinari played spectacular golf, and he did it while playing alongside of Tiger Woods.

Choking up, Woods said, "I told them I tried, and I said, 'Hopefully you're proud of your Pops for trying as hard as I did.' It's pretty emotional, because they gave me some pretty significant hugs there and squeezed". So when he rolled in a 40-foot birdie putt on No. 9, stiffed an approach inside two feet for birdie at No. 10, and almost drove onto the green to set up a tap-in birdie at No. 11, there was a feeling something special was happening.

"The beginning of the year, if they'd have said, 'You're playing The Open Championship, ' I would have said I'd be very lucky to do that".

Woods played with a bit more urgency Saturday, hitting five drivers off the tee after hitting just five through the first two rounds. Schauffele made a double on the next hole after getting tangled in the rough, and all of a sudden Woods was alone atop the leaderboard.

Woods lost the lead with one bad swing that would have been even farther left of the 11th green had it not crashed into the fans, leading to double bogey. He has won The Open Championship, still known colloquially to many as the British Open, three times, including back to back triumphs in 2005 and 2006. "From someone like me coming from Italy, not really a major golfing country, it's been an incredible journey".

But Woods would not go there, saying, "I did everything the way I thought I needed to do it to win the championship".

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