AMERICAN Corey Pavin shot a two-under-par 68 to join Nick Faldo at the top of the leaderboard after the third round of the British Open at Royal St George's yesterday. Defending champion and world number one Faldo, the overnight leader, had a frustrating day on the greens as he carded an even-par 70. Faldo birdied the second hole, bogeyed the fourth and parred every other hole as numerous birdie chances went begging. Pavin birdied two of the first four holes and had a late birdie and a bogey in his round, shaving shots off par with putts of 50 feet at the fourth and 30 feet at the 16th. The leading pair were at eight-under 202, one shot ahead of German Bernhard Langer, who went around in 70, and Greg Norman of Australia, who shot a 69. US PGA champion Nick Price of Zimbabwe made a significant move, firing a three-under-par 67 to stand two shots further back at five-under 205, the same total as Australian Peter Senior, who had a 70. Senior's compatriot Wayne Grady had the best round of the day, a 64, to join South African Ernie Els on four-under 206. Els carded a 69. Price was pleased with his round and felt he would have a chance to put the leaders under pressure today. The Zimbabwean said: ''I have to play aggressively to try and get up the leaderboard. I feel that I am now in a position that if the wind blows in the final round I might have a chance.'' Els stood at five under for the tournament before he dropped a shot at the last for his 69. He said: ''I feel a little disappointed because I got off to such a good start and I had hoped to be closer to the top.'' Fred Couples had even more reason to be disappointed. The American began the day firmly in contention, but a two-over-par 72 dealt a severe blow to his hopes and he fell back to four under for the tournament. With the sun breaking through, the chasing pack wasted no time in exerting extreme pressure on Faldo, who had shown his determination to claim a fourth Open crown with a record-breaking seven-under-par 63 in the second round. It was Els, who began the day five shots back, who set the tone yesterday with four birdies in his first eight holes to move to seven under. His charge, however, was temporarily halted with a bogey at the ninth. The diminutive Pavin was the next to launch an assault with birdies at the second and fourth to climb to eight under, while Norman rolled home a six-foot putt for a three at the first after a pinpoint approach. Faldo and Langer, playing together in the last flight, both made regulation pars at the first followed by birdie threes at the 376-yard second. But Faldo surrendered his outright lead at the 468-yard fourth where he pulled his drive into thick rough and had to settle for a bogey to drop back to eight under and leave him tied with Langer and Pavin with Els and Norman one shot back. Pavin had a golden opportunity to move to the top of the pack for the first time at the par-five seventh where he reached the green in two. His putt for eagle ran six feet past the hole and he missed the one coming back. Langer then dropped back with his first bogey of the day at the 155-yard sixth where he failed to get up and down from a greenside bunker. Faldo, from the same bunker, rescued par. Faldo, unable to reproduce his majestic form of Friday, again found sand at the 530-yard seventh and could only manage a par, while Langer birdied to take it back to a three-way tie at the top. But Langer's joy was short-lived as he took a double-bogey six at the eighth where he took a penalty drop after driving into trouble. To the disappointment of the American fans in the thronging galleries, Couples failed to press his claims, dropping strokes at the fourth and seventh. Following a slow start to the third round, Japanese-based Australian Senior, one of the four joint first-round leaders, moved back into contention with an eagle three at the seventh to stand at six under. Earlier in the day, Australian Grady benefitted from some advice from his caddie to make a decisive move up the leaderboard. Moving the ball slightly back in his stance when putting, the 1990 US PGA champion shot a six-under-par 64. With three birdies and an eagle-three at the long seventh, Grady reached the turn in 30. When he added another birdie at the 10th, Faldo's course record looked to be in danger. But the birdies then dried up as Grady - beaten in a play-off involving Norman and eventual champion Mark Calcavecchia at Troon in 1989 - parred his way home. Other early finishers included three-time champion Seve Ballesteros of Spain who returned a 69 to leave him on even-par 210 for the tournament - one behind veteran American Ray Floyd who came back in 31 for a round of 67.