British Open 2017: Jordan Spieth shoots a second 65, leads by three at Royal Birkdale
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.