Jordan Spieth fires a third-round 65 to take a three-shot lead over Matt Kuchar into Sunday.
Jordan Spieth Takes Control Of The Open 2017
Jordan Spieth has taken control of the 146th Open Championship with a third-round 65 to open up a three-shot lead over his closest rival, Matt Kuchar, on a record-breaking day at Royal Birkdale.
In benign conditions for most of the day, South Africa’s Branden Grace rewrote the record books by posting the first ever 62 in Major Championship history, but he still finds himself seven shots adrift of the leader.
Final pairing Spieth and Kuchar showed the rest of the field a clean pair of heels, despite a number of low scores from the chasing pack, one of which came from Austin Connelly, who shot an impressive 66 to finish the day in a tie for third, alongside Brooks Koepka.
Kuchar started the day two behind compatriot Spieth, but closed to within one at the 2nd, before dropping back to two adrift with a bogey at the 4th.
However, Spieth never managed to get further than two shots ahead, until the first serious error of the day at the par-4 16th saw Kuchar make double bogey as the heavens opened. After finding the fairway trap off the tee, the 39-year-old was forced to splash out sideways and compounded his error by three-putting.
But just a hole later, the lead was cut back to two, Spieth only managing a par at par-5 17th, while Kuchar made a tidy birdie, getting up-and-down from the greenside bunker for his four.
And the battle between the pair took another turn on the final hole when Spieth made the most of a good break in avoiding the sand trap with his approach, and holed his putt from 20 feet. Kuchar missed his effort from closer range, which has left him and the rest of the field with a huge task to reel in the two-time Major winner.
The chasing pack includes Open debutant, Connelly, a close friend of Spieth’s, who fired a 66 – which included a hole out for eagle on the par-4 2nd.
The 22-year-old Canadian, who qualified for this year’s Open Championship by winning a playoff at Royal Cinque Ports, fed off the galleries who flocked to see the mystery man surge up the leaderboard.
Rory McIlroy, meanwhile, was left to wonder what might have been. Having opened with a birdie and reaching four-under by the 6th, he double bogeyed the 10th after finding fairway bunker trouble, and eventually finished the day nine shots back.
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It was Grace who brought The Open 2017 to life earlier in the day, however, with the first ever 62 in Open history.
Reaching the turn in 29, he birdied 14, 16 and 17, before holding his nerve with a long two-putt for par from off the back of the 18th.Phil Mickelson lipped out for a 62 in the first round of last year’s Open at Royal Troon, and eventual winner Henrik Stenson shot a memorable 63 in the final round en route to victory.
But it’s the South African who now has his own special club, although he’ll likely need a round of a similar number to prevent Spieth from lifting the Claret Jug on Sunday.