They call Craig Parry "Popeye" because of his impressive forearms, but today the Aussie skipped spinach in favor of a pancake breakfast that definitely did wonders for his golf game, and his chances to win the 128th British Open.

Parry shot the best round of the week at Carnoustie today, a sparkling 4-under 67 that moved him to a 5-over total of 218 and within five shots of the leader, Jean Van De Velde. He'll be paired with the Frenchman on Sunday in the last group and would like to think he learned from his experience after leading the '93 Masters after 36 holes, only to fade to a tie for 13th.

"I feel in a great position to have a run at the championship," Parry said. "It's what everyone dreams of. I think that's got to rank right up there with the best round I've ever played. You know, I'm actually only 5 [feet] 6, but I felt about six feet tall out there the way I was playing."

Parry, who had six birdies today, said his round was jump-started by his second straight birdie, which came at the 412-yard fourth hole when he holed a 35-foot putt after hitting a 145-yard 4-iron into the teeth of the wind.

Parry played the first two rounds in a threesome with Tiger Woods and Ian Woosnam, and he said that "probably was a blessing in disguise. They played so well, they probably dragged me to their level for today anyway. Maybe I was more relaxed out there today."

Tonight, he said he will take his wife out to dinner at the Old Course Hotel in St. Andrews, about 30 minutes away.

"No spinach," he said.

Think Before You Speak

Britain's national tabloids roasted Colin Montgomerie today for essentially conceding his chances to win after Friday's round of 76, leaving him only seven shots off the lead with 36 holes to go.

After shooting 72 today, he insisted that he only made the comments to deflect attention from himself, and perhaps take a little of the pressure off in his attempt to become the first Scot to win the British Open in Scotland.

"All I was trying to do was deflect the situation away from the amount of pressure and media attention and everything that goes on about winning in Scotland and my position in Europe and what have you," he said. "My playing partners, David Frost had 69 and Brian Watts had a good round of 73, and I was the one getting attention again."

Montgomerie seemed to get a bit perturbed today when a reporter asked him if he would be able to cope with the pressure on Sunday.

"I can cope with pressure," he said. "I think I've proved a number of times now that I can cope with pressure."

Course Is Pain for Payne

U.S. Open champion Payne Stewart's third-round 74 was his best of the tournament, but at 13 over, he knows he has no chance to win. He said he hoped the Royal & Ancient Golf Club sets up next year's event at St. Andrews in a fairer manner.

"I am disappointed in the course setup but I love the tournament and I think it's the foremost tournament in the world," he said. "It would really complete my career if I could win one.

"It's tough when you have amateur bodies running golf events and they set up their courses their way, just as the USGA does. I think the USGA has listened to players in recent years and made the courses playable. Will they learn a lesson this week, the R&A? Maybe they will. Maybe they've learned a lesson this week."

CAPTION: Craig Parry played with a sea captain's confidence, weathering the storm known as Carnoustie with best round of week, a 4-under 67.