By Martyn Herman
HOYLAKE England (Reuters) - While there is still hope Sergio Garcia will battle all the way in the final round at the British Open, the Spaniard knows he faces a near impossible task to overhaul Rory McIlroy on Sunday.
"If he shoots three under, I have to shoot 10," the 34-year-old, who looks destined for yet more major frustration, said on Saturday after a round of 69 left him on nine under par - seven shots behind the Northern Irishman.
In 1999 Paul Lawrie famously began his fourth round at Carnoustie 10 shots adrift of France's Jean van de Velde, going on to snatch the Claret Jug in a playoff.
The Scot's incredible comeback will give McIlroy's pursuers belief that he can be caught, but Garcia was not exactly making the right noises at Royal Liverpool after a round that petered out following an outward nine of 32.
"If Rory plays the way he's been playing, it's difficult to see anybody catching him," Garcia, who played with Tiger Woods in the final pair at the same course in 2006, said.
"The only thing I can do is play well, try to put a little pressure on him and see how he reacts to that.
"If Rory wasn't 16-under, it would be really, really tight."
A high-risk strategy would appear to be the only option for Garcia, Rickie Fowler and the other chasers on Sunday.
Yet Garcia, who was a putt away from winning the title in 2007 only to lose a playoff to Padraig Harrington, said it would be pointless undoing what has been a strong Open by going hell for leather on a course that can punish gung-ho driving.
"It's not as simple as that," he said. "It's not like go out there and try to shoot 64, and if you shoot 82 it doesn't matter. You still want to do well.
"Even if you don't win, you still want to do well. You still want to finish as high as possible. That's what we all do and that's what we all love doing.
"Obviously maybe it's not the pressure of being in the lead, but if I had the chance, I would rather be in Rory's situation than mine.
"The only thing I can do is keep at it and keep putting myself in these situations, and hope one day that it will be my turn."
(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar)