Favourable conditions for the early starters at the Old Course could prove decisive in deciding The Open at St Andrews

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Favourable conditions for the early starters at the Old Course could prove decisive in deciding the final round of The Open at St Andrews, with Branden Grace and Jamie Donaldson among those making big strides up the leaderboard.

The South African, who came so close to landing his first major at the US Open, went out in 31 (-5) and then birded the 10th to climb 49 places on the leaderboard.

He’s not the only one making progress, as Ryder Cup hero Jamie Donaldson matched him blow for blow.

Further back Golf Monthly outside pick Francesco Molinari shot 32 (-4) round the front nine, before birdies at 10, 12 and 13 lifted him 54 spots.

David Howell (-4 thru 12) and Scott Arnold (-6 thru 16) are also making headway in the calm conditions, with only four players of the early starters currently over par in their final round.

Other early starters looking to make the most of the chance to spring up the leaderboard include Henrik Stenson (-3 thru 11), Graeme McDowell (-3 thru 10), Ernie Else (-2 thru 8) and Luke Donald (-1 thru 1).