GULLANE, Scotland -- Lee Westwood is positioned to win the first major title of his career.

Boy, does that sound familiar.

Long considered one of the best players without a signature win on his resume, the Englishman curled in a 60-foot eagle putt on the way to a 1-under 70 Saturday that put him two strokes ahead of Tiger Woods and Hunter Mahan.

The 40-year-old Westwood has been a perennial contender in majors, finishing second or third a staggering seven times.

But he's never been able to finish the job.

He'll try to do it Sunday at baked-out Muirfield, playing in the final group with Mahan.

Woods will be in the next-to-last pairing after shooting 72, a stumble at the end leaving him two shots behind Westwood's 54-hole total of 3-under 210.

They are the only three players under par for the championship.

Adam Scott is again a contender for the claret jug, though this time he'll have to come from behind. Last year, he seemed to have it wrapped up at Lytham until he bogeyed the final four holes, a stunning collapse that left him one stroke behind Ernie Els.

Scott matched Westwood's 70 and was at 213.

Miguel Angel Jimenez, the popular 36-hole leader, faded from contention on a miserable day. The Mechanic bogeyed four of the first eight holes, unable to scramble for pars as he did the first two days when his drives and iron shots got away from him. He limited the damage with birdies at the ninth and 13th, but things can turn quickly at Muirfield.

Jimenez bogeyed the 14th, took a double-bogey at the 16th when he needed two swings to escape a towering pot bunker alongside the green, and a lipped-out putt on 17 gave him another bogey. The 49-year-old staggered to the finish with a 77 and 216 total, his one-shot lead after Friday now a six-shot deficit going to Sunday.

Those closing holes were crucial.

STORY CONTINUES BELOW

Loading Slideshow...
  • Tiger Woods of the United States holds up his ball after putting on the second green during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

  • Tiger Woods of the United States, left, and Lee Westwood of England prepare to putt on the 4th green during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

  • Lee Westwood of England reacts on the 4th hole during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

  • Tiger Woods of the United States plays a shot off the third tee during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

  • Phil Mickelson of the United States plays out of a bunker on the 15th hole during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)

  • Adam Scott of Australia reacts after putting on the second green during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

  • Tiger Woods of the United States lines up a putt on the second green during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

  • Tiger Woods of the United States lines up a putt on the second green during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

  • Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain walks from the 7th tee box during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

  • Lee Westwood of England waits to play a shot on the 4th with his caddie Michael Kerr during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

  • Tiger Woods of the United States waits to play on the 4th fairway with his caddie Joe LaCava during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

  • Lee Westwood of England plays a shot on the 4th hole during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

  • Justin Leonard of the United States, left, and Phil Mickelson of the United States look at their golf balls on the first tee box during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

  • Phil Mickelson of the United States plays a shot off the second tee during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

  • Angel Cabrera of Argentina reacts on the 18th green during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

  • Ryan Moore of the United States, front, and Angel Cabrera of Argentina prepare to putt on the 17th green during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

  • Ryan Moore of the United States, right, and Angel Cabrera of Argentina stand on the third tee box during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

  • Tiger Woods of the United States, right, and Lee Westwood of England stand on the 5th fairway during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)

  • Phil Mickelson of the United States plays out of a bunker on the 15th hole during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)

  • The flag on the 5th hole flaps in the wind as a cargo ship passes during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)

  • Matt Kuchar of the United States plays a shot on the 11th hole during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)

  • Tiger Woods of the United States, left, and Lee Westwood of England talk on the 5th fairway as the 11th flag flaps in the foreground during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)

  • Lee Westwood of England waits to putt on the 5th green during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)

  • Marshals hold up 'Quiet' signs on the 11th hole during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)

  • Phil Mickelson of the United States waits to putt on the 11th green during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)

  • Hunter Mahan of the United States waits to putt on the 11th green during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)

  • Shiv Kapur of India plays out of a bunker onto the 11th green during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)

  • Matt Kuchar of the United States hits out of a bunker onto the 11th green during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)

  • Thomas Bjorn of Denmark, left, and George Coetzee of South Africa walk along the 11th fairway during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)

  • Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain lines up a putt on the first green with his caddie Clifford Botha during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

  • Sergio Garcia of Spain reacts after hitting out of a bunker on the 11th hole, hits the pin but does not go in during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)

  • Henrik Stenson of Sweden, filmed by TV cameras, plays out of a bunker on the 9th hole during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

  • Henrik Stenson of Sweden gestures on the 6th green during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

  • Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain, filmed by TV cameras, plays a shot on the 5th hole during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

  • Henrik Stenson of Sweden putts on the first green during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

  • Henrik Stenson of Sweden reacts after putting on the 9th green during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

  • Henrik Stenson of Sweden plays a shot on the first hole during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

  • Henrik Stenson of Sweden plays a shot on the first hole during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

  • Henrik Stenson of Sweden plays a shot on the third fairway during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

  • Henrik Stenson of Sweden plays a shot off the 9th tee during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

  • Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain plays a shot off the second tee during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

  • Tiger Woods of the United States reacts after putting on the 7th green during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

  • Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain plays a shot off the 9th tee during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

  • Lee Westwood of England gestures on the third tee box during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

  • Tiger Woods of the United States walks along the third fairway during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

  • Henrik Stenson of Sweden plays a shot off the 9th tee during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

  • Henrik Stenson of Sweden holds up his ball after putting on the 4th green during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

  • Henrik Stenson of Sweden reacts after putting on the 4th green during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

  • Henrik Stenson of Sweden reacts after putting on the 4th green during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

  • Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain plays out of a bunker on the 4th hole during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

  • Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain plays a shot on the third fairway during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, Saturday July 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Jon Super)


One shot ahead of Woods, Westwood faced the possible three-shot swing at the 16th when he yanked his tee shot into the tall grass, far left of the green, and Woods plopped his ball about 20 feet away from the flag on the right.

Westwood whacked at his ball but couldn't make it onto the green, watching it roll back to the edge of the second cut. Then he putted it up the hill, the ball stopping about 15 feet short of the cup. As Woods lined up a possible birdie, Westwood knew he could do no better than bogey - or worse.

Woods' putt stopped right alongside the hole, a tap-in par. Westwood calmly rolled his ball right in the center of the cup, having surrendered only one stroke to his playing partner.

As it turned out, the big swing came at the next hole. Westwood made another clutch putt on the par-5 17th, sinking a 12-footer for birdie. Woods made a sloppy bogey after a baffling mistake, shanking his second shot in a fairway bunker.

They both made par at the final hole, denying Woods at least a share of the 54-hole lead in a major for the first time since the 2009 PGA Championship.

Woods has never won any of his 14 major titles when trailing after three rounds. He had never lost one from that position, either, until Y.E. Yang pulled off a stunning upset at Hazeltine nearly four years ago.

Woods hasn't been in that position since then, his life turned upside down by scandalous affairs and divorce while his golf game was plagued by physical problems and a swing change. The last time he won a major was the 2008 U.S. Open, leaving him in an 0-for-16 slump that is the longest of his career, a stretch that includes missing four other majors because of injuries.

He looks healthy at Muirfield and still has a shot at moving closer to Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major titles.

Westwood briefly put himself three shots clear of the field on the front side, the most memorable shot a long, curling putt off the front of the fifth green for eagle. Woods fought back into a tie as they made the turn, Westwood grabbed the lead again with a birdie at the 14th, before Woods pulled even at 16.

Of course, it doesn't take long for things to change at this course along the Forth of Firth, where the Scottish weather has been postcard-perfect - sunny, temperatures in the 70s, with nary a hint of rain - but the course has proven to be a brutal test. The fairways could pass for paved roads. The greens are as firm as a snooker table.

Mahan quietly moved into contention with a barely noticed 68, the best score among those at the top.

Most of the attention was focused on Westwood and Woods.

That figures to be the case again on Sunday, two stars of the game chasing very different goals.

___

Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963