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Hat-trick seeking Hatton holds on to lead

Can anyone catch Tyrrell Hatton today? It’s dawning on the passionate galleries at St Andrews that it could be one of their own.

Hatton’s mission to win a third straight Alfred Dunhill Links title looks in good shape after an impressive third round 66 at the Old Course, but Scotland’s local hero Stephen Gallacher is just three shots behind.

It had looked for most of the day as if Tommy Fleetwood would be right up there with his Ryder Cup colleague Hatton. He was seven-under-par after 15 holes, but bogeys at the 16th, 17th and a weak par at the 18th, where he drove the green, undermined his charge, and he ended the day level with Gallacher.

Most will see either Hatton or Fleetwood as the likely winner, and Gallacher, champion in 2004, admitted he would have his work cut out to produce an emotional Scottish victory.

“They’re two top lads, playing well obviously, flying high after the Ryder Cup. Tyrrell loves this place. They are the boys to beat. It's good to be playing with them and trying to beat them. I like the event. I like the courses. I grew up playing here.

“I know the weather is going to be brutal, so obviously the more you can claw back on a day like this the better. I think if you’re four back or something like that and the weather is bad and you shoot five-under you’ve got a chance.”

Australia’s Marcus Fraser is another in the mix, he is one shot behind Hatton after finishing with three straight birdies for a 67 at Kingsbarns.

The highlights of Hatton’s 66 were two eagles at the 5th and 9th. He said: “I've been pretty calm all week. I'm not really thinking about the hat-trick too much. So far, so good, but a lot can happen in 18 holes.”