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British Open notebook: Johnson's shot at first major fades

Paul Newberry
Associated Press

St. Andrews, Scotland — Dustin Johnson began the third round of the British Open as the leader, having impressed everyone with the way he shook off that stunning loss at Chambers Bay.

Now, he's facing fresh doubts about his ability to finish off a major championship.

After squandering a day for going low, Johnson left himself with a massive catch-up job on Monday.

"I'm going to have to put together a special round to have a chance," he said. "Get off to a really good start, maybe, you never know what happens. Anything can happen."

Johnson didn't sound persuasive. Not after the way he staggered to a 3-over 75 Sunday while most of the top contenders were ripping up the Old Course, taking advantage of the soft greens and slight breezes.

There was red all over the scoreboard. Not for Johnson, though.

He made only one birdie all day, leaving him with a 7-under 209 total that puts him five shots off the lead.

Sergio Garcia lines up his par putt on the 18th hole before finishing with a 4-under 68. He sits three strokes off the lead at 9 under.

"I didn't feel like I played that bad," he said. "I just couldn't hole the putts. I felt like I was hitting good putts. They just weren't going in the hole. There's nothing you can really do about that."

Spraying shots and struggling with the putter, he muddled through the front nine with a 37 — the worst score posted by anyone in the final 17 twosomes. It didn't get any better on the back side, where his lone birdie at the 15th was wiped out by bogeys on the final three holes.

This isn't the first time Johnson has faltered at a major.

There was his final-round meltdown in the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, followed a couple of months later by his disputed two-shot penalty on the 72nd hole of the PGA Championship that cost him a spot in the playoff.

Then, of course, there was last month's U.S. Open, when he had a 12-foot putt to win the title on the final hole. He wound up three-putting, handing the trophy to Jordan Spieth.

Day ready to seize 1st major

Jason Day is tied for the lead after 54 holes of a major.

Unlike at last month's U.S. Open, Day is feeling good about his chances heading into the final round as he looks to win his first major title at the British Open.

A month ago, Day, an Australian, managed to haul his weary body into the final pairing at Chambers Bay despite collapsing because of vertigo in the second round and suffering bouts of dizziness in the third. Unsurprisingly, he faded out of contention and closed with a 74.

It's a new Day at St. Andrews. Back fit and in full control of his body, he was bogey-free Sunday in a 5-under 67 that put him tied with South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen and Irish amateur Paul Dunne on 12-under 204.

"To be able to come back pretty much three weeks later and play the way I've been playing … I feel healthy and I feel up to the challenge," Day said.