Intense winds and heavy rain forced the oldest major to be pushed back to a Monday finish, and the 2011 Masters champ felt the brunt of the tough weather. In spite of the tough conditions he managed to keep sight of the lead, which was set at 12-under-par after 54 holes.
Schwartzel will tee off four shots back from the frontrunners, but anything can happen at The Old Course and the signs are there that he could pull through for another big victory.
Staying out of trouble is a concern for the 30-year-old, who is experiencing some trouble with his driver. A wayward shot at St. Andrews can end the championship hopes of any player and Schwartzel will look to eliminate mistakes in order to have a chance of winning the Claret Jug.
In his third round he made the fairway 56 percent of the time, which left him with a disadvantage over those striping it down the middle.
“It feels like after the first two days of playing in that wind that I actually struggled to make full golf swings, and that caused a lot of sort of wayward shots, especially with the driver. Normally the club that I hit pretty much the best, I have been for quite some time, but I just didn’t drive it very well,” he said.
“There’s glimpses of some really good shots and some good golf, but I feel a little frustrated, you know. I played better at the U.S. Open. I definitely swung the club better there than I did here,” he added.
He faces stiff competition, which the lead being shared by two-time Open Champion Padraig Harrington, 2010 champ Louis Oosthuizen, and amateur Paul Dunne.
Oosthuizen, the most recent winner of The Open at St. Andrews, is a solid favourite to make it a double on Monday. During the third round he made 94 percent of his greens in regulation and shot 67 to secure his entry into the mix for the final 18.
“I love the golf course. I love this style of golf that you need to play here, and yeah, I just feel very comfortable on this track. I think obviously everyone within three, four shots has got a really good chance of winning, and it’s all about composure now and tomorrow – really your thought process on how you’re going to handle the pressure,” he said.
Not far behind was Retief Goosen, who shared sixth place on nine-under after an exceptional day with the flat stick. His game looked solid all around and he’ll be confident going into the final round within three shots of the leaders.
For Schwartzel it could go either way and his mental state will decide how Sunday pans out.
“I’m normally a little bit more comfortable on quicker greens, but I don’t know, just — maybe still just finding my game. You know, there’s glimpses of some really good stuff out there, but then the bad ones still whip you, and that’s just causing a lot of bogeys,” he said.