Spieth one round away from third leg of Grand Slam

Ruben Hill
July 23, 2017

Spieth entered the day with a two-shot lead over Matt Kuchar, and he only added to that, stiff-arming Kuchar and entering Sunday at 11 under, with a three-stroke lead.

Spieth did more than just survive.

The South African took advantage of benign conditions that were a world away from the rain and wind which rendered shot-making nearly impossible on Friday.

His fellow American and playing partner Kuchar claimed consecutive birdies at the short 14th and the 15th to move to nine-under par as the chasing pack faded behind. Instead, he got stuck in the mud a bit while watching Spieth run away. I've believed when I turned professional that I was going to rise and be able to play with the best in the world. "And it just one-hop, scooted around the group of bunkers there, and then it was obviously fortunate to get all the way to the green".

Branden Grace has made major championship history.

Spieth was at 6-under 134.

Spieth won The Masters and US Open in 2015 and will be looking to complete the third leg of a career Grand Slam today after a wonderful third round, during which he went head to head with Kuchar for 18 holes.

The forecast was for stronger wind on Sunday, which should be a stronger test for Spieth going for his third major, and Kuchar going for his first. He even briefly managed to tie Spieth for the lead when he birdied the 15th, but Spieth followed him in.

"I never felt nerves from the first tee on, which is surprising to me", said Connelly, 20, playing in his first major. He was at 4-under 136, and it would have been a good bet that he would be leading with the nasty weather that arrived.

"When we played in that afternoon on Friday I think was the worst stuff I've ever played in", he said. Having started the day four over par, he finished it four under, but he has a mountain to climb if he is to lift the Claret Jug later today. The biggest break came at No. 10, when the rain was pounding Royal Birkdale. It's so much easier to putt with that wind, let alone hit shots tee to green.

"Massive", he said about the chip-in par. If I get help, great, if I don't, I don't.

And he wasn't through just yet.

Kuchar wobbled with a double-bogey at the 16th before fighting back to birdie the 17th on the way to a 66 and Spieth drained a 12-foot putt at the last to give himself a cushion as he bids for a first British Open title. But Spieth had a tap-in for a birdie of his own, and quickly regained the top spot at 7 under.

Even so, his work is far from over.

Hopes of a home victor after Rory McIlroy, Ian Poulter and Richie Ramsay all slipped down the leaderboard into a tie for 11th with Ross Fisher, who at least made a good move through the field thanks to a 66.

Not to be overlooked was Rory McIlroy, who recovered from a horrific start Thursday to salvage a 71, and then kept right on rolling.

Spieth leads the Open on six under par after a one-under 69 on Friday - that sees him tied for the lowest ever 36-hole score in an Open at Birkdale, equalling Craig Stadler's effort in 1983.

Dropped shots at the 3rd and 9th saw him lose his outright lead, and he produced some wayward golf at times on the back nine. I have had a five-shot lead in a major before and blown it, so I will not be thinking about winning this tournament.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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