LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England (AP) -- David Duval flirted with both the lead and the course record Saturday before settling for a 6-under 65 that put him among the leaders in the British Open.
Duval took advantage of ideal playing conditions to birdie seven of the first 14 holes and briefly move into a tie with second-round leader Colin Montgomerie. But he bogeyed the 15th from deep rough and played the final four holes in 1 over.
Duval was a shot off the course record of 64 by Tom Lehman when he won in 1996.
"I got myself back into it today and that's where I want to be," said Duval, chasing his first major championship.
Tiger Woods, meanwhile, struggled after a strong start and remained at 3 under through nine holes. Woods made three birdies on the front nine, but a double bogey at seven stopped his momentum.
Woods threw a tee and cursed after a bad drive on No. 3. Then, on the seventh hole, he drove into the rough.
Montgomerie had an early bogey and was a shot back of Pierre Fulke at 6 under.
A number of other players who began the day at even par with Duval also made moves as light winds and overcast skies kept the course playing soft and made birdies plentiful.
Sergio Garcia and Ernie Els both shot 67s to get to 4 under, as did U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen.
The strong early play meant that the leaders couldn't be satisfied with making pars if they were to remain atop the leaderboard on a Royal Lytham & St. Annes course that suddenly proved itself vulnerable.
A day earlier, the gallery seemingly willed Montgomerie on, perhaps giving him some help as a shot destined for the crowd and deep grass sailed right of the seventh green. A few seconds later, it rolled down a cart path onto the fairway.
"We'll help you Monty," the fans yelled as a bemused Montgomerie walked up to his ball.
If they could, almost all the 41,500 who traveled by train and car to the seaside links would pitch in to win one for the ruddy Scotsman.
But they can't play Tiger Woods. And they can't erase Montgomerie's history of failure in this major championship.
Montgomerie has to do that himself in what shapes up to be the weekend of his golfing life.
"This is all new territory for me," Montgomerie said. "I haven't done a bad job, but at the same time I haven't been in this position in the Open before."
Montgomerie was at 7 under and on top of the Open leaderboard after two rounds following a 70 on Friday. He had a one-shot lead over Fulke and two ahead of Joe Ogilvie, Greg Owen and Jesper Parnevik.
But the one he's most worried about is Woods, who was four shots back after a 68 that included birdies on all three par-5s.
Woods knows what it is like on a Sunday with the crowd going wild and the claret jug up for grabs. He won the Open last year and has captured six major championships.
It's an advantage that even Montgomerie's most avid fans will find hard to overcome.
"I've won Open championships, and that in itself relieves a lot of tension, a lot of pressure, because you know what it takes," Woods said. "I know what the emotions are and I know what I'm going to encounter."
Montgomerie doesn't, because he hasn't won a major championship. He's come close, losing playoffs in the U.S. Open and the PGA, but this is different.
This is the British Open, the tournament he cherishes most and the one he most desperately wants to win.
"This is bigger than anything," Montgomerie said. "It's draining. I feel like I've been here 10 days already."
It's usually Woods who draws the big galleries and gets the huge cheers. But here it is Montgomerie, who at 38 might never get a better chance to win his Open.
"It was an incredible reception," Montgomerie said. "Long may it continue."
Still, it's hard not to look back and see the imposing shadow put down by Woods.
"I'm happy he's behind me. I will be happier on Sunday if he's behind me," Montgomerie said. "We all have an eye on him. He's the best player in the world by some margin. We are ahead of him right now, but he must be quite comfortable in that position."
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