Ernie Els finally shot an under par round at Muirfield but was frustrated he failed to make a bigger move on Saturday.
After two rounds of 74 left him at six-over par for the tournament the defending champion needed something low in round three to get himself back in contention.
But despite managing a one-under 70, he now has a mountain climb to win a third Claret Jug.
The two-time Open winner said: "I made some silly bogeys, basically three-putted on 6, after making birdie on 5. And then I kind of misclubbed myself on 7, got it into a bunker and not a great shot out of there, and missed about a 10-footer for par.
"I parred 8, birdied 9 and I thought I hit it perfectly on 10, but the wind wouldn't drift the ball. It went dead into a fairway bunker and I made bogey there.
"I'm trying to make a move but I"m shooting myself in the foot, as well. But I'm not totally out of it, I believe."
Els finished his round before the leaders had started so was hoping the wind would keep the leaders in check in the afternoon.
"Hopefully nobody really goes away this afternoon. But if I'm within 6, 7, you never know. It happened last year," said the South African.
"I'm not saying it's going to happen every day, but anything can happen in The Open. Somebody can get hot, from where I am, and if the leaders don't get hot, you're in the ballgame. That's what I'm hoping for."