They are two strokes clear of Cameron Smith, who made his first birdie of his third round at the ninth hole.
McIlroy’s tee shot at the par-4 10th bounced into a bunker on the right of the fairway. His bunker shot landed short of the pin and rolled into the cup. He held up his left arm and punched the air.
McIlroy and Hovland are 15 under.
Viktor Hovland is riding a hot putter. Cameron Smith’s has gone cold.
Hovland rolled in a putt from 20 feet at No. 6 for a fourth straight birdie and a two-shot lead on 14 under at the British Open.
Smith, who made 253 feet of putts in his second round, led by two strokes overnight and is 1 over for his third round after five holes. He is 12 under, tied for second place with Cameron Young and Rory McIlroy, who has birdied Nos. 5 and 6 like playing partner Hovland.
Cameron Smith started his third round at the British Open with his two-stroke overnight lead intact.
He immediately gave a shot back.
The Australian missed a par putt from 4 feet at No. 1 and dropped to 12 under. Cameron Young, playing with Smith in the final group, made par and is still in second place on 11 under.
Ahead of them, Dustin Johnson birdied the second hole and moved to 10 under for a share of third place with Viktor Hovland and Rory McIlroy.
Tommy Fleetwood is 5 under for his round after 16 holes and is tied for sixth.
Shane Lowry chipped in for eagle on successive holes around the turn at the British Open to provoke some of the biggest roars on the Old Course and move into contention for another claret jug.
The 2019 champion hit a wedge from wispy rough to the left of the green at No. 9 and the ball landed short of the pin before rolling in.
His pitch at No. 10 was from the fairway and took a similar line into the hole.
The Irishman is the first player to have back-to-back eagles at the British Open since Phil Mickelson at Royal Lytham in 2001. They came on back-to-back par 5s.
Lowry jumped to 9 under for the tournament and was four shots off the lead held by Cameron Smith, who has yet to tee off.
As an academy professional and senior instructor at St. Andrews, Scott Herald has played at the home of golf countless times.
Nothing compared to his latest round at the Old Course.
Herald was informed late Friday that because of the uneven number of players — 83 — to make the cut at the British Open, he could be a marker with Richard Mansell in the first group out in the third round.
“Definitely special. Goosebumps, really,” said Herald, whose tee shot at the first almost went out of bounds.
He closed with a birdie.
Herald tried to get into the Open through local qualifying but missed out. He says he has been a pro for 14 years, playing on the minor tours.
Herald will play with Mansell again on Sunday, provided there are no withdrawals.
It’s shaping up to be a day of low scoring at a sunny St. Andrews.
Kevin Kisner, out in the second group of the day, had an eagle putt from 21 yards for a 63 that would have tied the low round at a major at the home of golf.
He wound up making par at No. 18 and settled for a 7-under 65. Kisner’s playing partner, fellow American Trey Mullinax, shot 66.
Richard Mansell went out alone to start the third round and shot 68.
Of the first nine players to complete their rounds, six shot in the 60s — including 2018 champion Francesco Molinari’s 66.
The Old Course is vulnerable without much wind at the British Open. If anyone needs proof, just take a look at Kevin Kisner. The American made the cut on the number at even par. He already has five birdies through the opening seven holes.
The R&A has been tucking pins throughout the week when the forecast is for little wind, and there are a few tough ones for Saturday’s third round.
Kisner’s great start is little more than that. Cameron Smith was still six hours from starting his round with a two-shot lead.
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