Tyrrell Hatton takes five-shot lead into final round at St Andrews

Tyrrell Hatton tops the leaderboard going into the final round at St Andrews. Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Defending champion Tyrrell Hatton put himself on the brink of a dream victory at St Andrews as he opened up a five-shot lead heading into the final round of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

The Englishman equalled the course record at the home of golf last year on his way to a four-shot victory and a first European Tour title, and a bogey-free 65 put him in a commanding position to defend his crown.

After opening with a 68 on the Old Course on Thursday, he followed that with a 65 at Carnoustie and matching that mark at Kingsbarns moved him to 18 under, with Frenchman Gregory Bourdy his closest challenger.

Ireland's Paul Dunne was then at 11 under with former world number one Luke Donald and fellow Englishman Ross Fisher a further shot back but all eyes will be on Hatton when he tees off on Sunday.

The 25-year-old got up to 14th in the world rankings in March before enduring a frustrating summer but that will all be forgotten should he become the first man to successfully defend this title.

"Last year this event was a fantastic moment for me," Hatton told the European Tour's official website. "It's great to be back and I'm enjoying my first defence. Last year was a new experience for me going out leading a tournament and I managed to do a really good job.

"Made myself very difficult to catch, hopefully I can do that again tomorrow. I'll certainly try my best to do that. That's all anyone can ever do is try their best and I'll certainly do that. To win at the home of golf once is incredible but to do it again and defend would be a dream come true."

Starting on the back nine, he birdied the 10th, 12th and 14th, hit a brilliant approach to the first and then did well to get up and down from a bunker on the third.

Another birdie on the fourth handed him a six-shot lead and while Bourdy closed the gap, a closing gain put Hatton in further control.

Bourdy made four birdies in a row from the third in a 66 at Carnoustie, while Dunne -- who claimed a first professional win at last week's British Masters -- had three birdies and a bogey in a 70 at Kingsbarns.

Fisher birdied six of his last seven holes at Kingsbarns for a 67 while Donald also produced a big finish with four gains in seven holes.