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McIlroy suddenly under threat on Open championship leaderboard

Fowler surges to tie on Open championship leaderboard
Fowler surges to tie on Open championship leaderboard
Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images

The 2014 British Open championship leaderboard looked all clear for Rory McIlroy after July 18. With McIlroy having avoided his traditional second round blues, and with Tiger Woods falling out of Open championship contention, the leaderboard had McIlroy all clear by four strokes. But as the third round progresses on July 19, things are tightening up again after all.

For this, the Open championship has Rickie Fowler to thank, as he has blazed to -6 through 13 holes of the third round. McIlroy hasn't collapsed for his part, yet after a bogey at 12, he is at -12 overall and finally tied with Fowler as of 9:30 a.m. est.

Sergio Garcia and Jim Furyk are right in the top 5, yet they still have a lot of work to do. Garcia has gone up to third place at -9 overall by going -3 through the first 13 holes of round three. However, that still leaves him four shots off the pace in his long quest for his first major title. For his part, Furyk is -7 and tied for fourth with Victor Dubuisson.

Dustin Johnson had been second halfway through the Open championship, yet he has sunk down the leaderboard by going +2 through 11 holes. As for Woods, his decent into irrelevancy in this competition was complete when he shot a +1 through 12 holes, while defending champion Phil Mickelson finished his round at -1 overall.

At this point, the Open championship is no longer a one-man race controlled by McIlroy, although he still has a share of the lead like he has throughout the week. The likes of Fowler have benefited from the decision to have a "shotgun start" and have groups of three start play at the same time, to avoid the heavy rain and thunderstorms ahead.

Without the weather to cause havoc quite yet, McIlroy, Fowler, Garcia and others have been safely in the red and have had quite a few surges. But the Open championship doesn't always earn the weather gods' favor for an entire week. As such, there's still plenty of time for the leaderboard to shift significantly from the elements -- yet at this point, McIlroy might need extra help to get Fowler off his back.

The newfound drama can currently be seen live on ESPN.