Jordan Spieth primed to win first British Open as Branden Grace cards record score

The 23-year-old is three shots in front of compatriot Matt Kuchar heading into the final round as he looks to add to his two major titles

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 July, 2017, 2:39pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 July, 2017, 2:39pm

Jordan Spieth is in prime position to claim his third major title as he takes a three-shot lead into the final round of the British Open at Royal Birkdale on Sunday.

The American star sits atop the leader board on 11 under par after shooting a flawless 65 on Saturday –- his third consecutive round in the 60s – while compatriot Matt Kuchar is his nearest challenge at eight-under.

Spieth, winner of the Masters and US Open in 2015, had held a two-stroke lead over Kuchar at the halfway stage and kept his rival at bay all afternoon on Saturday before extending the advantage when he birdied the 18th.

Spieth has been at the top of the leader board after each of the first three rounds this week, but as he comes into the finale memories are still fresh of his stunning collapse in the last round of the 2016 Masters.

Then he led after each of the first three rounds and was five shots clear approaching the 10th hole on the Sunday, only to drop six shots in three holes and eventually lose out to England’s Danny Willett.

“I think I’m in a position where it can be very advantageous, just everything I’ve gone through, the good, the bad, and everything in the middle,” said the world number three when asked if he would use that experience to his advantage on Sunday.

“I understand that leads can be squandered quickly, and I also understand how you can keep on rolling on one.”

If the Texan sees out the victory he will follow in the footsteps of the great Jack Nicklaus by getting three-quarters of the way to a grand slam in the majors before his 24th birthday – he turns 24 next week.

Kuchar, 39, has never triumphed in a major but then the last seven majors have all gone to first-time winners and five of the last six British Opens have been won by players aged 39 or older.

Spieth bucks wind and pounding rain to take 2-shot halfway lead at British Open

“I’ll be playing with him but not focused on him. My goal is to go out and play Royal Birkdale,” said the giant Florida-born Kuchar, whose best finish at a major to date is tied third at the Masters in 2012.

“I’ll know exactly where we stand but I don’t know how much that ever helps you. You just have to go out and hit the best shot for the situation.”

South Africa’s Branden Grace shot up the leader board on Saturday, becoming the first player to shoot a round of 62 in a major championship.

Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka and Matt Kuchar tied for the lead at British Open

Grace – who sits at four-under with Japan’s world number two Hideki Matsuyama – shot eight birdies in his bogey-free, eight-under-par round on the par-70 course to achieve a feat that has gone untouched for 157 years.

Grace took advantage of the benign conditions as he made history and the forecast is for largely fine weather throughout Sunday, although there could be rain later in the day.