While Jordan Spieth waited to tee off on Saturday, players on the course were picking apart Royal Birkdale, the same course that produced a scoring average of 74.03 in the second round of the Open Championship the day before. Before the leaders even began their third round, three players already had posted five-under 65s in the pristine conditions, and Branden Grace was working on what would later become the lowest round in major championship history, an eight-under 62.
As we've grown accustomed to with Spieth, he was unfazed, and went out and carded a low number of his own, a second five-under 65 in three rounds, this time bogey-free. He's through 54 holes at 11-under 199, three shots ahead of Matt Kuchar. It's the 14th round at a major since 2015 that Spieth has led or co-led. A victory on Sunday would give him the third leg of the career grand slam at the age of 23.
Kuchar, 39, posted a four-under 66 that featured a double-bogey on the par-4 16th. He bounced back with a birdie on the 17th, and nearly holed his approach shot for eagle at the 18th. He missed the short birdie putt, however, and finished at eight-under 202. He'll be paired again with Spieth tomorrow in pursuit of his first major championship.
Tied for third at five-under 205 are U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka and Canada's Austin Connelly. Connelly, 20, began his round three-under through two holes after holing his approach for eagle at the par-4 second. He'd end up with a four-under 66, which included birdies on his final two holes.
Koepka had a colorful round as well, making six birdies and four bogeys for a two-under 68. He has a chance on Sunday to win his second straight major, but will need a low round and some help.
Before Spieth reclaimed the headlines, it was Grace that was the talk of the Open Championship, with his eight-under, bogey-free 62. He wasn't even aware of the record when he holed his final putt. The South African is tied with Japan's Hideki Matsuyama at four-under 206.
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson and defending champion Henrik Stenson lurk at three-under 207. Johnson, who hadn't played the weekend in a major since last year's Open Championship, posted a bogey-free six-under 64 on Saturday. Sweden's Stenson carded a five-under 65.
Tied with Stenson and Johnson are Chan Kim and Rafa Cabrera-Bello, who each shot three-under 67s.
Rory McIlroy looked poised to make another charge after making birdie on three of his first five holes, but two bogeys at the seventh and eighth holes and a costly double-bogey on the par-4 10th robbed him of the momentum. He finished with a one-under 69 and is nine shots back at two-under 208.
England's Ian Poulter didn't have his best on Saturday, but gutted out a one-over par 71. He's tied for 11th with McIlroy at two-under.