The 2023 United States Walker Cup captain takes a nine-shot lead into the final round after matching the low score of the day, a one-under-par 69. He is on five-under 205 for 54 holes.
The 59-year-old and fellow American Don Whitmore were the only two players to shoot under par. Whitmore began the day tied for 37th, but begins the final round in joint fourth place.
McCoy was fortuitous over the opening two rounds, escaping scorecard wrecking winds thanks to a favourable draw. He finally faced the gusts off the Dornoch Firth in round three, yet the 2013 US Mid-Amateur champion revelled in the conditions.
Off at 4.46pm with Scotland’s Robert Jenkins and Warren Bladon from England, the only three to start the third round under par, Royal Dornoch played downwind for the first eight holes. However, while fellow overnight leader Jenkins was three-over and Bladon four-over on those holes, McCoy was one-under and in command. He opened with a birdie, and added two more along with two bogeys. He made three birdies on the last ten holes along with a double bogey at the 11th and a bogey at the 14th.
“It was very tough out there today,” said McCoy, who is nine strokes clear of Jenkins and ten ahead of Irishman Jody Fanagan in third place. “Going out downwind was just as tough as playing the back nine into the wind. These courses play just as hard downwind as into the wind.
“We faced a lot of delicate shots where you’re just trying to land the ball to a spot and not run it through the green.
“Then when we got into a cross wind that’s blowing 20-30 mph you’re just trying not to overcook it and let the wind carry it away.’
The strength of the wind over the last ten holes forced McCoy to hit a shot he’s not used to playing.
“I three putted the 11th after missing a short putt because of the wind,” he added. “That was really annoying because I’d just played one of the best shots off my life at 10, the par-3. I hit a punch 6-iron to two feet into a really strong gust. I can’t remember the last time I hit a 6-iron from 120 yards, but that’s how strong the wind was on the back nine.
“It took a little while to settle into the putting because the wind made it hard over the ball especially on the short ones. Thankfully I’ve got a local caddie, Alexander McDonald. He’s a member of the club and knows the greens well. He’s been very helpful.”
McCoy’s approach to the third round should stand him in good stead as he tries to follow friend and Des Moines neighbour Gene Elliott as Senior Amateur champion. Elliott is tied for 34th on 13-over, 18 shots off the lead.
“I went out there today with the idea I was going to have a good attitude, just do the best I could and try not to get too down on myself. That attitude paid off and hopefully it will tomorrow.”