St Andrews set for final scene
And so the cameos come to an end as the men who set the scene bow out. We have a new cast of major players for the final act. All those left on the stage will have parts to play in the finale.
Welcome, Paul Casey, Martin Kaymer, Henrik Stenson, Alejandro Canizares, Lee Westwood. And of course our leading man for two days now Louis Oosthuizen. Our star will come from one of you.
As understudy we have Dustin Johnson but you're unlikely to be needed.
But scripts can be changed, even ripped up. Paul Lawrie wasn't supposed to come from 10 shots behind to win at Carnoustie in 1999, but Jean van de Velde fluffed his lines. Quite dramatically as it happened.
Anyway, enough of the theatre analogies. Lawrie's comeback is still the Open record after 54 holes, meaning Nick Watney, Sean O'Hair, Retief Goosen and Ricky Barnes would have to emulate the Scotsman. Anyone else, starting with Rory McIlroy, would be straying into new territory.
Goosen, for one, was already conceding defeat. "Pretty much out of it now so hopefully just get a good round in and try to finish in the top five," he said.
But McIlroy - and the Old Course - have shown that strange things do happen. The 21-year-old went from a sublime 63 to a ridiculous 80 in the first two days.
"We'll just have to see what the weather does," said Tiger Woods, who knows better than most that it's never over until it's over.
Brisk breezes, gusting up to 25-30 mph, are predicted for early afternoon on Sunday, easing later. The chasing pack will have to hope it knocks everyone sideways and then see who can get up first.
Oosthuizen may have missed seven cuts in his previous eight majors, but that stat is irrelevant now - he hung onto his lead in impressive fashion on Saturday.
"No-one was really expecting me to be up there," said the 27-year-old, a protege of Ernie Els who has also been in touch with Gary Player this week. "I mean, no-one can actually say my surname, so they don't know who I am out there. But it's great being up there and I want to enjoy everything about it.
"I'm really happy with myself, keeping my emotions intact."
But Casey is a player who can get on a streak and make up ground quickly. And if the building support as the crowd sensed he was on a charge on Saturday afternoon is anything to go by, the Englishman will have the galleries firmly behind him.
The trouble with streak players is they can disappear as quickly. Just ask Mark Calcavecchia, who was second behind Oosthuizen after round three and shot 77.
So does Casey, who has only had four top 10s in 29 majors, have the ability to translate his Saturday form into a resilient major championship-winning performance on Sunday?
"I know what this golf course can do," said Casey, who has only picked up two shots on the back nine all week and dropped three on the 17th on Friday.
"It can give you some great moments and it can give you some horrible ones. I'm going to go out there with a smile on my face and enjoy it."
The 32-year-old's best major finish was tied sixth at the Masters in his first appearance in 2004 after going into the final round one shot off the lead. And Casey, who went to college in America and lives in Arizona, admits he always thought his best chance of a major would come at Augusta because of his high ball flight, rather than at the Open where he says he may have misplaced the art of links golf.
"It's in there," he said. "I know how to do it and I love doing it."
Of the other realistic challengers - Kaymer (-8), Stenson, Canizares and Westwood (all -7) - all have a chance of bagging a first major, while Johnson, also without a major, will be entrusted with trying to preserve America's formidable record of winning 11 of the last 15 Opens, and the last three at St Andrews.
Kaymer would be the first German major winner since Bernhard Langer won the Masters in 1993, Stenson the first ever male Swedish major champion, while Canizares would better his former Ryder Cup player father Jose Maria Canizares and become Spain's first major winner since Jose Maria Olazabal won the Masters in 1999. And of, course, Westwood would improve on his three top threes in the last four majors, including at Turnberry last year.
"I've made the mistake of chasing in majors before," said Westwood. "I got off to a bad start and then looked at it afterwards and realised I did not need to be that aggressive. As always I have a game plan and patience will be key.
"I've won from eight behind before, it can be done, we know that. Strange things have been happening this week."
The curtain will soon be going up. Is there yet a twist in the tale?