The 144th Open: Willett still in with a shot despite frustrating third round at St Andrews

Jul 17, 2015; St. Andrews;   Danny Willett tee's off at the 4th during the second round of the 144th Open Championship at St. Andrews - Old Course. Picture Ian Rutherford'''�Ian Rutherford 'ianrutherfordphotography@gmail.com'www.ianrutherfordphotography.com'07710337520
Jul 17, 2015; St. Andrews; Danny Willett tee's off at the 4th during the second round of the 144th Open Championship at St. Andrews - Old Course. Picture Ian Rutherford'''�Ian Rutherford 'ianrutherfordphotography@gmail.com'www.ianrutherfordphotography.com'07710337520

Danny Willett believes he’s still in contention for a first major title, despite shooting a level par round of 72 and dropping back down the leaderboard.

Willett is one of eight golfers tied for sixth on nine under, three shots behind leaders Louis Oosthuizen, Jason Day and Irish amateur Paul Dunne, ahead of Monday’s final round

The Sheffield golfer was second going into the third round, and played in the final pairing of the day alongside American Dustin Johnson.

But all the low scoring, some of it breathtaking, took place ahead of them.

Marc Leishman shot a 64 to move from one under to nine under, Padraig Harrington carded a 65 to go third, Jordan Spieth shot a 66 to move into second, and 22-year-old Dunne jumped into a three-way tie for the lead with a 66.

Willett had a steady start, picking up shots at the fifth and ninth holes.

Another birdie at 10 put him 12 under and into an outright lead.

But a bogey at 13 was followed by an out of bounds tee shot at 14, where he dropped another shot.

And he slipped back to nine under on the 17th.

Playing partner Johnson also suffered a frustrating day, dropping shots on each of the last three holes to sit five shots off the lead.

Speaking afterwards 27-year-old Willett admitted it wasn’t the round he wanted, but insisted he was still in with a chance of lifting the Claret Jug.

“Three shots back in an Open Championship is never too far back,” he said.

“We played good going out, hit some good shots, so it’s not all bad, staying in there.

“(But) DJ and I couldn’t get anything going between us.

“Didn’t really do what we wanted to do.”

Having not yet had the benefit of a televised replay, he was still in the dark about how he went out of bounds on 14.

“We thought it was alright, but it must have kept drifting,” he said.

“I don’t know how it got there, I haven’t seen it yet. It must have just kept going.”

Despite his obvious frustration, with huge backing from the galleries, and the sight of a Yorkshire flag in the crowd on the 18th, Willett was quick to express his gratitude to the spectators – who have endured torrid weather and long delays this weekend.

“The support has been good all week. British golfers being up there is what the crowds want to see so it’s been amazing.

“It’s never bad when people are cheering you on, it’s a lot better than when they’re booing you.”