American Jordan Spieth shot a two-under-par 69 for a share of a one-stroke lead with locals Greg Chalmers and Brett Rumford after blustery conditions caused chaos in the third round of the Australian Open.
Firm greens and difficult pin positions but most of all the gusting wind left Spieth, Chalmers (71) and Rumford (69) on five-under – a leading score unchanged from Friday – with only five other players below par for the tournament.
While Adam Scott was among them in a share of fourth with fellow Australian Rod Pampling after both shot 69s, Rory McIlroy suffered a spectacular mid-round collapse that saw the world number one drop five shots in two holes and finish with a 76.
Spieth described conditions as “brutal” and was pleased with his mix of five birdies and three bogeys, one of which came at the ninth hole when his approach shot hit the pin and bounced back off the green.
McIlroy’s driving was to blame for his slump as he found thick scrub at the ninth for a triple bogey and went into the trees for a double bogey at the 10th to plummet down the leaderboard.
The Northern Irishman ended the day with a share of 14th on one-over but is still only six shots off the pace as he looks to defend the title he won last year.