Open Championship: Spieth, Kuch and Poulter thinking about Sunday faceoff

Open Championship: Spieth, Kuch and Poulter thinking about Sunday faceoff

On the most favorable day for major scoring in recent memory, a day that saw a record 62, Jordan Spieth saw the onrushing horde of would-be challengers for the Open Championship and merely threw down a bogey-free 65, capped with an 18th-hole birdie, that left no doubt about who's in charge this week.

JORDAN SPIETH CLINICALLY moved closer to Open Championship glory on Saturday, stretching his lead over Matt Kuchar to three strokes and pulling clear of the rest of the field as Branden Grace made history in the third round at Royal Birkdale.

US Open Champion Brooks Koepka (68) and 20-year-old Canadian-born Texan Austin Connolly (66) are six shots adrift of Spieth at five under and will play in the penultimate group of the final round.

On one of the lowest-scoring day's in this event for many a year - Grace took pride of place as he became the first male to sign for a 62 in a Major - Spieth carded a flawless five-under-par 65 as he moved nearly effortlessly to 11-under-par. That alone should concern his fellow competitors, seeing as Spieth - victor of the Masters and U.S. Open in 2015 - doesn't typically move backward (with apologies to No. 12 at Augusta).

Willett, whose career has not really kicked on since he beat Spieth to the green jacket at Augusta previous year, was handed the first tee time on Sunday at 7:55am. He now stands eight strokes off Spieth's lead with a few holes to play. "It's trying to go up against Royal Birkdale and put on the best show you can against the golf course". "You either hit a club that stays short of all those bunkers, or you take a club that at least only brings the traps up at 300 into play. and I did neither". I'll know exactly where we stand, but I don't know how much that ever helps you.

"I just had to turn it around", McIlroy said. Teeing off just before Spieth, the Northern Irishman holed three birdies from his first give holes, including an exquisite 20 yard chip on the second to jump to four-under par.

Kuchar got up and down on 17 to trim Spieth's lead to two, but he couldn't answer the dagger on the last.

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But as the rain picked up, Spieth chipped in for par, then rolled in a 10-metre birdie putt on 11 followed that with a tee shot to less than a metre on 12. It was the eighth-best round of the day, and it came with all the pressure on him playing in the final round of a major with Spieth. "I'm going to have to see what's forecasted and I'm able to fortunately watch coverage, see where misses are, see what putts do". Spieth didn't stop on Saturday from extending his lead either.

Spieth, though, feared the worst when he got up early and sat down to tune into the morning's action on the course.

"You just don't know where your breaks fall and where they don't".

But for the next 31 holes, the four-time major champion has been six-under in putrid conditions. "Today was just go out there and take advantage when you get a good number and when you don't, take your medicine". But there's no Rae's Creek at Royal Birkdale, and Danny Willett is almost 20 strokes back.

Remarkably, Grace's 62 looked like being matched soon after as Johnson played his first 10 holes in five under par, but the big-hitting American could only find one more birdie and settled for a 64.

"It's a different feeling", he said, "and one that's harder to sleep with than the other way around because you feel like you've got to nearly change the way you do things". And if I don't win [Sunday], it has nothing to do with that. "My goal had been to score a 66 today and I bettered that by one shot".