Nearly man Louis Oosthuizen trusting that golf rather than fate will land him a second Claret Jug

The South African carded a 1-under-par 69 to take a one shot lead into the final round of the 149th Open at Royal St George’s.

Odds for the top three to win with PlanetSportBet

Louis Oosthuizen 163/100

Collin Morikawa 2/1

Jordan Spieth 5/1

Jon Rahm, winner of golf's most recent Major Championship, believed it was karma that delivered him the title.

Louis Oosthuizen, who leads the 149th Open with 18 holes to play, is not so convinced.

Asked if he felt fate owed him a second Major triumph after six second-placed finishes the 38-year-old grinned wryly and said: "No, it's just golf."

The South African overcame a slow start on Saturday to carded a 1-under-par 69 that left him one shot clear of Collin Morikawa on 12-under 198.

Early in his third lap it was less a case of Moving Day than immovable object as he carded six consecutive pars.

Two birdies followed before the turn, but he gave the shots back early in the back nine before a birdie-2 at the 16th gave him that slight edge over his nearest challenger.

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"I did have a lot of opportunities to go two or three better," he admitted. "But that's what this golf course can do to you.

"I made a few bad swings in the middle of the round and it put me in some awkward positions. Ended up making two bogeys, then 4-iron approach on 14, made a horrible swing, ended up making a par."

The anguish of that half dozen near-misses in the Majors is one thing, but Oosthuizen has also experienced very recent pain in the events which define a career.

He finished solo third in last September's US Open, tied second in May's PGA Championship, and solo second in last month's US Open.

He's not so much been knocking on the door as running full tilt, and head first, at it.

Asked how he can turn agony into ecstasy he smiled again and said: "Go one better."

He added: "You know, finishing second isn't great, so I will play my heart out tomorrow and see if I can lift the Claret Jug again."

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Morikawa had dropped two early shots and appeared to be slipping out of contention. But back-to-back birdies at the seventh and eighth, then the 13th and 14th first resuscitated and then revived his hopes of victory in his championship debut and a second Major victory in under 12 months.

His aim for Sunday is to keep everything simple.

"You build a game plan ahead of the tournament and you stick to it," he said. "That is exactly what I am going to try and do tomorrow.

"Obviously being in a final round at a major is different, but I'm going to try and keep it as similar as possible to every other tournament I've played.

"Hopefully trust the process and just be committed with that."

For most of the day Jordan Spieth had been the greatest threat to Oosthuizen's dominance.

He made a superb start, ticking five birdies in the first 10 holes. Steady tee-to-green, he was deadly with the putter.

The galleries were particularly vociferous in their support for him, even if his longest birdie putt was drained on the quietest spot on the course - the distant fourth green overlooked by a handful of fans hanging out in the adjacent garden, getting gently sozzled on Pimms and lemonade.

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Bogey at the 11th and 17th, plus nothing better than par at the vulnerable par-5 14th, stalled Spieth's progress, however his threat was genuine until an aberration on the final green.

A 15-foot birdie chance brushed the hole, but the two-foot par attempt that followed missed it entirely. The resulting bogey will have hurt: it not only left him three shots in arrears of the leader in solo third, it will also surely nag away in his head all night and throughout tomorrow morning.

Indeed, within minutes of signing his card he had foregone talking to the media and was seen on the putting green, somewhat frantically discussing his technique with coach, and missing more short putts.

Scottie Scheffler and Corey Conners share fourth on 8-under, with Jon Rahm, Mackenzie Hughes and Dylan Frittelli another shot further back.

Let's take a closer look at the leading contenders.

Louis Oosthuizen

The 38-year-old is 2-for-7 at breaking 70 in the final round at the Open and he has three times recorded scores of 73+. He led the Open by four at this stage in 2010 and extended the advantage to seven by the end of the week. He also shared the lead after three rounds in 2015 before losing in a play-off.

He's 8-for-17 at converting 54 hole lead/co-leads into wins, but 6-for-10 when the lead is solo.

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Collin Morikawa

The youngster has been tied second or better at this stage of a tournament seven times, winning twice. The first win came from one back at this point, the second when leading by two.

He is an Open debutant, but has played in fine fashion on the final day of Majors in his brief career, carding 69-64-74-70-68-70.

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Jordan Spieth

It's a slightly astonishing truth that 11 of his 14 wins have come when he was leading (or sharing the lead) after 54 holes. In another two he was second. Only in his first win, at the 2013 John Deere Classic, did he emerge victorious when more than two blows back of the lead.

He has a peculiar final round record in the Open. He shot 75-73 in his first two, then rattled off three sub-70 efforts (69-68-69), before carding 76-77 in his last pair of appearances.

Open stats and trends

The last 20 winner of the Claret Jug were tied ninth or better after 54 holes. No less than 19 of them were tied sixth or better. 15 were tied third or better.

The biggest deficit overcome (by shots) in the last 20 Opens is six (Padraig Harrington in 2007 and Ernie Els in 2012). Players with a one shot lead after 54 holes in the Open have a 4-for-6 record since 1996.

Remember also: nine of the last 10 winners had already recorded a championship top 10, nine of 10 played the week before the event, eight of the last 10 champions were already winners that year.

Morikawa and Spieth are winners this year, Spieth and Oosthuizen have Open pedigree, only Morikawa played last week.

With Spieth spooked and Oosthuizen a little wary of the near-misses, the unscarred Morikawa could pounce.

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