Open Championship 2013: Lee Westwood leads at Muirfield with 18 holes to play
Last Updated: 20/07/13 10:01pm
Lee Westwood: In ideal spot to win his first major title
Lee Westwood will take a two-shot lead into the final round of the 142nd Open Championship at Muirfield.
Westwood, seeking a first major victory after a string of near misses, put himself in pole position after carding a third round one-under 70.
His three-under total means the Englishman leads by two shots from world No 1 Tiger Woods and another American, Hunter Mahan, who raced through the field after a joint best-of-the-day 68.
Third round leaderboard
(GB & Ire unless stated)
-3 L Westwood
-1 H Mahan (US)
-1 T Woods (US)
Lev A Scott (Aus)
+1 R Moore (US)
+1 A Cabrera (Arg)
+1 Z Johnson (US)
+1 H Stenson (Swe)
Click here for collated scores
That trio are the only three players under par after another testing day on the Scottish links in East Lothian.
Starting the day one shot behind leader Miguel Angel Jimenez, Westwood vaulted into the lead with a brilliant eagle at the 559-yard par five fifth.
The 40-year-old, putting superbly since working with 1991 Open champion Ian Baker-Finch, was faced with a testing putt from around 35 feet but promptly holed it to leapfrog Woods, who had earlier led on his own after a birdie at the second.
And when Westwood followed that with a birdie from five feet at the seventh as Woods bogeyed, the Ryder Cup star suddenly had a three-shot lead.
That lead did not last long, however, the now Florida-based Englishman three-putting the eighth for a bogey and dropping another shot on the ninth after finding sand off the tee and hitting a poor chip from the back of the green.
Woods got up and down from a greenside bunker for a birdie there to join Westwood at the top of the leaderboard and the two remained locked together on two under after pars at 10, 11, 12 and 13.
Westwood edged in front again after a superb approach to 14 allowed him to birdie from three feet but he had to hole a 15 footer for bogey at 16 after a loose tee-shot and a hacked second which failed to reach the green.
Both men found the fairway at the 17th but Woods blundered as he found a crossbunker with his second and racked up a six while Westwood birdied after a nice chip and putt.
That gave Westwood a two-shot lead heading to the 18th tee and, despite a nervy looking final putt, he protected it by matching Tiger's closing par.
Masters champion Adam Scott, who blew a four-shot lead with four to play in last year's Open at Lytham, remains on course for a second major of 2013 after a solid 70 saw him finish at even par - just three shots back.
The Aussie is alone in fourth while Sweden's Henrik Stenson (71), double major winner Angel Cabrera (73) of Argentina and Americans Ryan Moore (72) and Zach Johnson (73) share fifth place on one-over.
Halfway leader Jimenez saw his hopes nosedive with a string of errors. Four bogeys in the first eight holes saw him slump to one over but after recovering with birdies at 9 and 13 he dropped four more shots coming in to finish at three-over.
Scotland's Martin Laird saw his hopes of a famous home victory go up in smoke when - just one off the pace - he ran up a nine on the par-four third after taking two penalty drops from the heavy rough.
He eventually signed for an 81 which saw him spiral down to tied 51st.
Hideki Matsuyama's chances suffered a more controversial blow as the 21-year-old, who only turned professional in April, was penalised a shot for slow play.
Matsuyama was given the penalty on the 17th, turning a par five into a bogey six and a round of 72 that left him three over par.
It is the second such penalty issued in a major championship this year after Chinese schoolboy Guan Tianlang was penalised during his second round at the Masters.