SOUTHPORT, England -- And so we've arrived at the final round of the 146th British Open where partly sunny skies and calm conditions are greeting the early twosomes off at Royal Birkdale. But for how long? That's the second biggest question being asked this Sunday, as weather forecasts hint at a windier afternoon on Sunday than Saturday, which produced Branden Grace's historic 62, along with "a few spots of rain." Of course, the biggest question is whether anyone can catch Jordan Spieth given his seemingly rock-solid form, the three-stroke edge he has on Matt Kuchar and the six-plus stroke margin on the rest of the field. What's in store for the golfers on Sunday? Stay right here for all the latest news, scores and highlights.
(All times local)
6:37 PM: Spieth lags his putt to two feet, while Kuch's par attempt comes up just short.That will do it. Your 2017 Champion Golfer of the Year is Jordan Spieth.
Thanks for reading throughout the week; we hope you had as much fun as we did.
6:30 PM: Both drives fail to find the fairway, but Spieth's approach grabs the green while Kuch goes into a bunker.
6:23 PM: Kuchar converts the birdie putt to get to 10 under. Give the man credit: guy's played a helluva round.
But Spieth makes his bird, holding a two-shot lead going into the final hole.
6:20 PM: Kuchar hits a nice wedge shot, but takes a big bounce and leaves 15-20 feet for the birdie. Spieth puts his wedge to seven feet. If Kuch misses, game: blouses.
6:15 PM: Kuchar's drive on 17 finds the heavy stuff, manages to get it up the fairway though. Spieth's drive wasn't great by any means, but gets his approach 30-40 yards short of the green. A birdie here likely seals the claret jug.
6:09 PM: Another huge putt from Spieth at the 16th, this time for birdie. He's at 11-under and now has one hang on the claret jug. What a recovery after the circus at the 13th hole, which we attempt to explain here.
Kuchar makes par and is two back. Time is running out.
5:58 PM: They both stripe tee shots on the 16th.
That's all she wrote for Haotong Li.
5:54 PM: BANG! Spieth makes eagle at the 15th and is now at 10-under. Unbelievable.
Kuchar gets up and down for birdie. He's now one back. That escalated quickly.
5:49 PM: And we're all tied up again at eight under as Spieth holes the birdie. Somehow, he played the last two holes in even par. They both hit solid tee shots at the par-5 15th. Spieth is just off the green with his approach, while Kuchar finds the greenside bunker.
Up at 18, Rafa Cabrera-Bello finds the green and has a look at birdie to get to six under with Haotong Li. For now though, it looks like it's a two-man race between Spieth and Kuchar.
5:40 PM: At the par-3 14th, Spieth nearly jars his tee shot. He'll almost certainly make birdie, while Kuchar has some work to do for par.
5:36 PM: Spieth recovers for bogey at the 13th. While painfully slow, it's still an incredible save. Kuchar two putts and now leads the Open Championship by one stroke at eight under.
Rory makes par at the 18th to finish at five under 275. It doesn't feel like it, but this will be his second top-10 in a major this season.
5:28 PM: Finally (25 minutes later), Spieth hits and comes up well short of the green. A bogey would be in the running for bogey-of-the-year or longest-bogey-in-history. Either one works.
5:21 PM: Spieth finds his ball, and will take an unplayable. When that actually happens, we're unsure of. He's been walking around for 10 minutes looking for the best spot. Like we said, things are getting very interesting, very quickly.
Kuchar's approach found the green about 15 minutes ago. All he can do is wait.
Meanwhile, Rory makes eagle at the 17th! That bogey on 15 is looking very costly now.
5:08 PM: Oh dear. Spieth hits one "100 yards right of the fairway" according to NBC's Roger Maltbie. Not good, folks.
Kuchar is safe in the right rough.
5:02 PM: Brooks Koepka hasn't been able to get anything going since Thursday, and Sunday has been no different. The U.S. Open champ just made his third bogey of the day at the 13th and falls to three under.
Spieth and Kuchar par the 12th. It's not exactly Stenson-Mickelson, but things should get interesting quickly.
4:51 PM: Spieth hits a remarkable recovery shot and saves par. Could have been much, much worse. Kuchar just misses birdie. All tied up through 11.
Rory saves bogey and rolls his eyes as he walks off the green, knowing he's blown his last real chance.
4:47 PM: Just when you think Rory is going to make things interesting, he blasts one off the planet at the par-5 15th. He's staring double-bogey in the face.
Speaking of wayward shots, Spieth just pulled one left of the green and into the gallery at the 11th. Trouble brewing once again. Kuchar's approach finds the green. A two-putt could be all he needs to grab the solo lead.
4:37 PM: This seems apropos at the moment:
4:30 PM: R&A officials tell Spieth and Kuchar to pick up the pace after two-hour front nine. Guessing these are the same officials that let Jon Rahm do whatever the hell he wants. 2018 Ryder Cup is going to be LIT.
Meanwhile, appears Spieth and Kuchar will trade pars at the 10th to stay at eight under.
4:21 PM: With a two or three under front, Koepka could have really put some heat on Spieth and Kuchar. Instead, the U.S. Open winner is one over on the day, and is essentially fighting for third.
Meanwhile, Spieth birdie try misses, while Kuchar converts the bird. And then Spieth misses a two footer. Tied up. We got ourselves a ballgame heading into the back nine.
4:14 PM: Both Kuchar and Spieth execute stellar second shots at the ninth, wth Kucha having the slight advantage at birdie. Starting to look like Li's Open bid from this morning, as improbable as it was, has lost its viability.
4:07 PM: Matthew Southgate and Marc Leishman turn in 65s to finish the tournament four under, currently good for T-4. Lot of guys still left on the course to better that number, but impressive Sunday displays nevertheless.
4:04 PM: Kuchar sticks his approach on the eighth, while Spieth flies his second shot on the back part of the green. Great opportunity for Kuchar to get to just one back.
3:58 PM: Rory McIlroy is now four under on the tournament, jumping up to T-4. The man remains the most curious four-round study in golf.
3:54 PM: Spieth and Kuchar both par the par-3 seventh. For all of his struggles, Spieth is now one under on his past three holes. Has a two-shot lead with 11 to play.
3:43 PM: Spieth makes a nice pitch, just has a few feet left for par. Kuchar's bunker shot falls about 20 feet short of the pin, with his ensuing roll coming up short. That drops Kuchar to seven under, and one over for the day.
3:40 PM: Spieth's tee shot goes WAY left, almost to his benefit on the sixth hole, finishing in trampled gallery ground. From 260 out, puts his second shot just right of the green. Will have a delicate third shot, but a par off that tee shot would be a bigger boost than the birdie at the fifth.
3:35 PM: Other names of note: Rory McIlroy is only one under on the day, but at three under is suddenly T-6; Rafa Cabrera Bello is at four under for the event for T-4 with Brooks Koepka; Dustin Johnson is even for the Open, three over on the round.
3:30 PM: Spieth stops the bleeding with a birdie, while Kuchar makes a knee-knocker for par. That should get the Texan's mind back on track.
3:26 PM: Spieth settles down, finding the fairway on the fifth and darts his approach within eight feet. He desperately needs that to fall.
3:18 PM: This is getting ugly. Spieth three putts for his third bogey in four holes. Kuchar and Spieth are at eight under, just two above Li. This is getting interesting...interesting is the word I'm looking for, yes?
3:13 PM: Li birdies the 18th for a 63, and is just three back of Spieth. With easy conditions, there's no way Spieth, Kuchar, even Koepka fall under six under, right?
3:08 PM: Kuchar fails to save par from the bunker, dropping to even for the day and eight under for the Open. Spieth doesn't come close with his par put, now two over through three holes. He needs to get right, and in a hurry.
3:02 PM: Spieth blows his approach past the green, and again faces a difficult up-and-down for par. He's bailed out by Kuchar, who leaves his second shot in a greenside bunker.
Meanwhile, Haotong Li makes birdie at the 17th, six under on the day and five under for the tournament. Given the struggles of the early groups, could find himself in the top five by tournament's end.
2:54 PM: Spieth just misses his birdie, while Kuchar taps in. The deficit is already down to one.
2:50 PM: Kuchar puts his approach within feet of the pin on No. 2, while Spieth answers with a shot about six-seven feet away. Nice bounce back from Jordan.
2:47 PM: NBC just managed to act like Haotong Li, who's birdie on the 16th moves him to four under for the tournament, has a chance to post a number and put pressure on the leaders. All for selling theater, but come on, fellas.
2:44 PM: FYI, for those worrying about Spieth...
2:41 PM: Spieth walks off with bogey, while Kuchar sinks his par putt. Lead is down to two.
2:39 PM: Audio catches Spieth muttering, "That's crap, man" regarding his second shot. Michael Greller tells his man to get over it. We all need a caddie in our lives.
2:32 PM: Spieth's second shot goes left into the gallery, and will have a Herculean task ahead to save par. Kuchar's approach isn't much better, leaving himself a tricky up-n-dow as well. Of course, with Brooks Koepka and Austin Connelly bogeying one, this thing is just a two-man race, so they have some latitude to work with.
2:28 PM: Oh boy: Spieth's drive -- which looks like a beauty off the tee -- finds deep rough on the first. Depending on the lie, we could have ourselves a rodeo.
2:18 PM: According to Google, "Haishutsu" is Japanese for "ejection." Matsuyama puts his fourth in the bunker, and lips out his double putt to make a 7.
2:11 PM: Hideki Matsuyama, who starts his round seven back, immediately ejects from the proceedings by putting his tee ball way out of bounds on No. 1. Matsuyama might eventually grab a major. It won't be this week.
2:08 PM: Not to say that 61 is already out of reach, but Johnson has to go sideways out of a bunker at No. 1, and is looking at a 50-footer for par.
2:00 PM: Dustin Johnson, coming off a Saturday 64, starts his day. The reigning Player of the Year states his target score is 61, hoping that is enough to make some noise. Yeah, I'd say a 61 would do that.
1:52 PM: Justin Rose, who famously finished T-4 as an amateur in 1998, finishes up a mostly disappointing Open with an even-par 70, finishing outside the top 50. Despite his success, Rose has not improved on his play at the tournament 20 years ago, with just one top 10 at the event since.
1:46 PM: McIlroy begins his day by spraying his approach right of the green. Following yesterday's missed opportunity, Rory starts nine strokes back of Jordan Spieth. However, given he missed three cuts in his previous four events, a strong Sunday will at least give Rory hope for Quail Hollow and the FedEx Cup.
1:40 PM: Zach Johnson is now four under through 13 holes, jumping 29 spots to T-11. ZJ has five T-12 or better finishes in his past six Opens, including his win at St. Andrews in 2015. A solid showing down the stretch should make him six for seven.
1:29 PM: Marc Leishman is three under through his first seven holes, highlighted by a 30-yard hole out from a bunker. Leishman, who owns a T-5 and T-2 at the Open, could find himself with another high finish if this performance keeps up.
1:19 PM: U.S. Open breakout star and Greenbrier winner Xander Schauffele turns in an early number, making an eagle and six birdies for a five-under 65. For a guy who was unknown six weeks ago, the man is having himself a hell of a number.
1:15 PM: For those interested in attendance, this year's Open set a new mark for patrons fans, drawing 235,000 during the tournament.This year’s attendance surpassed the 230,000 mark set at Royal Liverpool in 2006, making it the largest ever Championship held in England and reflects a 17% increase since The Open last visited Royal Birkdale in 2008.
1:09 PM: Jason Day, who fired one of the better rounds of Saturday with a 65, begins his Sunday in inauspicious terms with a double at the first. Though he was not exactly primed to make a claret jug run in his position, Day -- who's struggled inside the ropes in 2017 -- is merely looking to gain some momentum before the year's final major at Quail Hollow.
12:31 PM: So Sergio Garcia, who starts the round T-18, just teed off with Matt Fitzpatrick at Birkdale with a unique challenge, as outlined by Sky Sports here in the U.K. This is Garcia's 21st Open start (which by itself is pretty nuts). In his time he's played in nine of the 10 rota courses (the only one he hasn't is Portrush, which really doesn't join the rota until 2019). And Garcia has had top-10 finishes in all but two: Turnberry and ... wait for it ... Birkdale. A solid Sunday round can remedy that.
12:06 PM: Remember when Charl Schwartzel shot an opening 66 to sit one off the lead after Day 1 at Birkdale? We don't either, but it apparently is true. And then he had to play three more rounds, shooting a 78 in crummy weather Friday, a 71 that felt like a 78 in perfect weather Saturday, and a 71 that ended bogey-bogey-bogey on Sunday. Somebody buy the man a pint, please!
11:59 AM: There's been a Jordan Spieth sighting already on the practice putting green at Birkdale. The 54-hole leader is out roughly 2 1/2 hours ahead of his final group tee time, with caddie Michael Greller and instructor Cameron McCormick. It's a tricky thing, trying to figure out how early is too early to get to the course when you've got all that time to let the consequences of what lies ahead roll around in your mind. Apparently, a little early makes sense for Spieth.
Oh, and if you haven't done it already, you might want to read Jaime Diaz's story about what's at stake for Jordan Spieth on Sunday. That's easy you say, it's the claret jug that's he's playing for. As Diaz explains, it's more than that.
11:55 AM: Henley finishes with a 67 and Kisner with a 69. Just a reminder Kevin, fast pay makes fast friends.
11:41 AM: No birdie for Baddeley, who settles for par on the home hole, and a measly old 64. We're guessing, though, that he'll be plenty happy with it considering he had never broken 70 in the Open in 16 previous rounds before this week at Birkdale, when he did it twice counting his opening-round 69.
11:31 AM: After Branden Grace's fireworks on Saturday, a 63 in a major championship seems so yesterday's news. Yet with three straight birdies on Nos. 15-17, Aaron Baddeley has him self at six under for his Sunday round, needing a birdie on the 18th to become the 32nd man to shoot the once magic number.
11:12 AM: The good news: Danny Willett was playing the weekend at a major for the first time in 2017, after an MC at the Masters and a WD at the U.S. Open. The bad news: Willett was the first off on Sunday at the Open. Playing from the auspicious spot, Willett got around in about 3 1/2 hours and posted a 71 for a nine-over total, leaving him unfortunately in the hunt for the worse 72-hole among those playing on the weekend.
10:52 AM: The lone amateur to make the cut, England's Alfie Plant, is greeted with plenty of applause on the first tee as he begins his final round paired with Brandon Stone. Among the faithful rooting on the 25-year-old are #TeamAlfie, roughly 200 supporters from Plant's home golf club, Sundridge Park outside of London.
With Plant guaranteed to win the low amateur award this afternoon, that makes it a run of Rose, Wood and Plant earning the silver salve at the last three Birkdale Opens. The wildlife theme caused Paul Casey to joke on Saturday, "If a lad named Rhododendron is in the field when this hosts its next Open, you might want to bet on him."
10:15 AM: So is there any early indication that Royal Birkdale will be as generous to players as it was on Saturday? How about a "sort of." Of the nine players to finish the front nine thus today, only three have made the turn over par.
Meanwhile, if you haven't read it yet, now is a good time to look at this story about whether the R&A might have actually been happy about the low scores shot on Saturday.
8:25 AM: From the-quirky-twosomes-that might-only-interest-us department, Russell Henley and Kevin Kisner are off in Game 4. The pair are University of Georgia alums who didn't overlap in school (Kisner finishing in 2005, Henley in 2011), but who are loud members of Bulldog nation. Both are well down the leader board this week, but you've got to think they've got a little extra action on the line for their final 18 holes, no?
7:35 AM All's quiet in the village of Birkdale, except for a grocery store a block from the train station. The woman behind the counter pleasantly greets the few customers coming in and out. Without solicitation, she offers her prediction on how the day will shake out: "It's going to be Jordan by four strokes. You heard it hear first!"
****************** SATURDAY *******************
8:48 PM: An unbelievable turn of events at the 18th. Kuchar's approach from the fairway nearly finds the cup, while Spieth's was a bit off line and found the green.
Spieth buried the lengthy birdie putt anyway to finish at 11-under, while Kuch missed his short birdie look and finishes at eight under, three back. For the second straight year, Saturday's final group will play together on Sunday.
That's all for Saturday at Royal Birkdale. Check back early tomorrow morning for more live updates from the Open Championship.
8:43 PM: Poulter holes the par putt and tips his cap to the home crowd. A one-over 71 is the opposite of what he needed today, but it was still a gutty performance. Koepka bogeys and finishes with a two-under 68. He's within striking distance at five under heading into the final round.
8:34 PM: Poulter's approach on the 18th finds the bunker, and has a lot of meat left for his par putt. Even if he sinks it, he'll likely be eight shots back and (basically) a non-factor heading into the final round.
8:31 PM: Spieth's bogey-free round continues, although a poor second shot at the par-5 17th leads to a 5. Kuch answers with a birdie to get one back after 16th's hiccup.
8:25 PM: Hold the phone, here comes Austin Connelly! The diminutive Canadian birdies the final two holes to fire a third-round 66, jumping up to fourth on the leader board. The 20-year-old has played around the world this year in hopes of securing full-time status at a respectable circuit. A strong Sunday performance would certainly do wonders for his European Tour prospects, and even help his odds at a PGA Tour card. What a story.
8:15 PM: Golf teachers need to show a tape of Spieth's performance to anyone struggling with their irons. He safely puts his approach on the 16th, and just misses his bird attempt.
Of greater note, however, are the adventures of Kuchar. Forced to lay up after a poor tee shot, Kuchar's approach is nowhere near the pin. Likewise poor is his putt, and the 39-year-old walks off with a double-bogey 6. Spieth's lead is now three.
8:07 PM: The troubles continue for McIlroy, who manages just a par at the par-5 17th. Will likely start Sunday's round 10 strokes back of the leaders.
7:59 PM: Kuchar's eagle attempt comes up just short, but makes it to go to nine under. Unfortunately for Kuch, Spieth makes a knee-knocker of a birdie putt to stay one ahead.
7:54 PM: Poulter makes a birdie on the 15th, but after three consecutive bogeys, the Englishman's claret chances are on life support. Will need something special down the stretch to stay afloat heading into Sunday.
7:43 PM: Kuchar rolls in a long birdie putt at the par-3 14th, while Spieth converts a short par putt. Spieth is up one, with four strokes between Kuch and Kopeka. If they rack up a few birds down the stretch, we're looking at a two-man Sunday race.
7:41 PM: He didn't get a ton of air time on Saturday, but Rickie Fowler turned in a respectable 67 and currently sits in 12th place. He's too far behind to make a Sunday push, yet it should translate to another top-10 major finish. His time will come.
7:35 PM: Rory makes a marvelous second shot on the par-5 15th, only to miss the eagle putt. As Yogi Berra once said, "It's getting late early."
7:32 PM: Spieth pars the 13th, enters a stretch Birkdale's easier holes. Don't be surprised if he gets this thing to 11 under by day's end.
7:23 PM: Chan Kim cards one of the quietest three under 67s of the day. He heads into Sunday at three under 207.
Koepka just made his third bogey of the day at the 13th and is now tied for third with Matsuyama and Grace at four under. Ian Poulter, his playing partner, just made his third straight bogey. Ouch.
7:19 PM: The Poulter train is running out of steam. After back-to-back birdies he's made back-to-back bogeys. Once again, he's the only player in the top-25 working on an over par round. Still time to pick up some shots though.
Finally, someone makes a birdie after a bit of a lull. Matsuyama takes advantage of the par-5 17th and is now four under for the tournament, tied with Grace.
After the double-bogey at the 10th, Rory has made four consecutive pars. He needs to pick up a few on the par-5s.
Spieth and Kuchar make boring pars at the par-3 12th. They've both made four straight since each making birdie on the 8th hole.
Koepka continues to hang in there at five under in solo third.
7:07 PM: Poulter drops a shot at the 11th to fall back to level par on the day, three under for the tournament. He's tied for fifth with Matsuayama and Connelly.
Ross Fisher posts a four under 66 and heads into the final round at two under 208.
6:57 PM: Every time Spieth seems like he's going to flinch, he rolls in a testy four footer for par instead. He's nine under through 10, two up on Kuchar, who also just made a great par save at the 10th.
Austin Connelly continues to hang around. The young Canadian is three under through 11, just six back.
6:45 PM: Spieth and Kuchar save pars at the ninth and turn in three under 31. Back nine should be fun.
Earlier, Poulter rolled in his birdie putt at the ninth and he's just stuck another one close at 10. If he can make that, he vaults up into a tie for fourth with Branden Grace at four under.
Rickie Fowler was bogey-free through 17, but dropped one on the final hole to post a solid three under 67. He's through 54 holes at one under 209.
How about Ross Fisher? Guy's working on a five under round and hasn't even been mentioned on the broadcast. He's tied for sixth at three under with one hole to play.
6:37 PM: Rory makes a costly double bogey at the 10th, dropping him back to even on the day, one under for the tournament. He's eight back now. Not ideal.
6:30 PM: We have a Hideki Matsuyama sighting on the broadcast. The no. 2 player in the world makes birdie on the par-3 14th after a streak of six straight pars. He's lurking at three under.
6:27 PM: Kuchar makes a big birdie on the eighth, but Spieth pours one in right on top of it to keep his two shot lead.
A sign of life for Poulter comes in the form of a pretty 160-yard approach shot at the par-4 ninth. He's got a good look at birdie to get back to level par on the day.
6:20 PM: Rory rights the ship on the par-4 ninth with a birdie to get to three under overall, five back. He''s going to need a few more circles on the scorecard to keep pace with Spieth.
After a bogey on six, Koepka bounces back with birdie on the seventh. He's at four under.
Poulter did in fact bogey the eighth. The Englishman is the only player in the top-15 with an over par round as it stands. He needs to turn it around.
6:13 PM: Poulter's drive finds the long stuff on the eighth, and his second shot advances all of 10 yards. His third finds the green, but he's likely looking at bogey to drop to over par for the round and six back of Spieth. He's in desperate need of a birdie run.
6:11 PM: Spieth sinks the birdie to take a two shot lead over Kuchar, four over Brooks Kopeka. The way he's hitting his irons, a 65 or 64 is undoubtedly in play.
6:10 PM: Spieth and Kuchar both put nice swings on the par-3 seventh, leaving nice birdie chances. For all the read on Day 1, these two are starting to separate themselves from the pack.
6:04 PM: Make that back-to-back bogeys for McIlroy. Man needs to get right, and in a hurry.
5:57 PM: McIlroy bogeys the par-3 seventh to drop to two under on his round, three under for the tournament. Rory still in great position, but -- with little leeway for error -- needs to tighten things up.
5:50 PM: Kuchar's eagle just misses, leaving a tap-in bird to return to six under. Spieth misses his bird chance, and though it's a par, that's giving one back to the field given how easy the fifth is playing on Saturday.
5:45 PM: Not a good sign of confidence: Spieth lays up on the very gettable par-4 fifth. Kuchar, meanwhile, puts his drive within 20 feet, giving him a chance to erase a bogey at the fourth.
5:40 PM: Leader in the clubhouse for tweet of the day:
5:35 PM: How low are guys going at Birkdale? Notah Begay just had to remind TV audiences that Dustin Johnson's attempt at 63 "would still be a really good day."
5:28 PM: Spieth -- remember him? -- puts his approach within inches on the third hole. Kuchar has a nice second shot of his own, leaving seven feet or so for bird...and converts, keeping Spieth's lead at one.
5:21 PM: KUUUUUUUUCH moves to five under with a birdie on the second hole. Spieth makes another par and now holds only a one stroke lead.
Meanwhile, Rory just drove the green at the short par-4 fifth... with a 3-wood. He's got a great look at eagle to get to five under.
5:11 PM: Haven't heard from Rory in a bit, probably because back-to-back pars are pretty boring amidst the Saturday birdie barrage at Royal Birkdale. But Rory just got in the mix, chipping in at the par-3 fourth for bird. This leader board isn't so bad.
4:03 PM: DJ hits one tight on the 16th, but misses the short birdie putt. He'll need to birdie the final two holes to match Grace's 62. If not, he'll have to settle for a 63 or 64. Lame.
3:59 PM: And the leaders are off. Spieth finds the left rough while Kuchar splits the fairway.
A hole ahead, Canada's Austin Connelly holes his approach for eagle to get to three under through two holes. Can you say #59Watch?
3:51 PM: Will Grace's record even hold up? Not if Dustin Johnson has anything to say about it. He's at six under with three holes to play.
3:30 PM: Seriously, Johnny is better than any heel Vince McMahon could envision.
3:25 PM: The final groups are about to tee off, with Rory McIlroy hitting the course. From 123 yards, he sticks his approach to within a foot. This is going to be a hell of an afternoon.
3:20 PM: This is why Dan is the best:
3:17 PM: Dustin makes a tricky par putt on the 13th, remains five under through his round. With two par 5s ahead, has a chance to tie Grace's 62 with a strong finish.
3:12 PM: And there it is! Grace with the first ever 62 at a major.
And the damnedest thing? That record might not make it through the afternoon.
3:11 PM: Grace executes a beautiful lag putt, leaving a gimme for 62.
3:10 PM: Grace's approach goes a tad long, leaving a touchy up-and-down for a shot at history. Never can be easy, can it folks?
3:09 PM: Damn Justin Thomas spittin' straight fire...
3:00 PM: Grace makes a two-putt birdie at the 17th, gets to eight under. His drive on the 18th finds the first cut. Needs a par for the first 62 in major championship history.
2:50 PM: Dustin Johnson makes a birdie at the 10th, now at five under for the day. Grace might have a 62 and see the record last all of 45 mins at this pace.
2:40 PM: That's a birdie from Grace on 16th, bringing him to seven under on the day. It's happening, you guys.
2:30 PM: Jason Day finishes at five under for the day, bringing him to even for the tournament. Though it's likely not enough to get into the claret jug conversation, it's at least a sign of hope for a guy who's been mostly lost inside the ropes this season.
2:20 PM: Grace is now six under for his day, with both par 5s ahead. Forget 63; 62 is within shouting distance.
2:10 PM: With all this red on the score board, Johnny is starting to sound like Red after Andy broke out of Shawshank. "I guess some birds aren't meant to be caged."
2:01 PM: Also finding early fruition: Dustin Johnson, who is three under through six holes. He now finds himself at even for the tournament, and could put himself in title contention with a few more birdies.
1:50 PM: Yeah, guys are going low today:
1:40 PM: In trying to drive the par-4 5th, Dustin Johnson pulls his tee shot well left...only to watch his bounce off the grandstand and onto the green. Apparently the bank is open on Saturdays in Southport.
1:35 PM: The NBC crew is pondering if 62 is possible today. I'm pretty sure they're doing this just to rile up Johnny.
1:25 PM: Also making a morning move: Jason Day, who birdies the par-5 15th to get to five under on the day. The Aussie began his round outside the top 60, but his latest bird moves him to 11th.
1:15 PM: Branden Grace, who's had a host of solid finishes at majors the past three years, makes the turn in 29 to jump to one under. Clearly red numbers can be had on Saturday.
12:50: Shaun Norris shoots a bogey-free 65 to tie for the low round of the week. The 35-year-old South African is playing in his first major championship. Afterward he also addressed people question his putting method. "I know I'm well within my rights." He's also well within striking distance of a high finish that could change his career.
12:30: Local favorite (and nearly betting favorite) Tommy Fleetwood eagles the 15th hole to get to four under for the day and back to one over for the tournament. Fleetwood needed a Friday rally just to make the cut, but he's played his way back into the mix. Well, almost into the mix. In any matter, a local man who stands to make a life-changing sum if Fleetwood wins, has reason to pay attention now.
12:25: Jason Day adds a birdie on No. 10, his fourth of the day, to pull to one over for the tournament. Other guys off to fast starts are Branden Grace (three under through five) and Jason Dufner (two under through five).
12:10: Jason Day and Andy Sullivan are the "game" of the day, thus far with zero bogeys through nine holes. Day birdied the ninth hole to turn in three under 31, bringing him to two over for the tournament. Playing partner Andy Sullivan went out in 32. Low scores are out there, folks.
10:45 AM: There's not much of note going on early at Royal Birkdale, but let's take a moment to remind you of what's to come. We've got some fantastic pairings on tap, including Dustin Johnson and Paul Casey (12:50), Adam Scott and Andrew "Beef" Johnston (1:00), Rickie Fowler and Sergio Garcia (1:50), Rory McIlroy and Gary Woodland (3:25), and of course, the last two "games" of Brooks Koepka-Ian Poulter (3:45) and Jordan Spieth-Matt Kuchar (3:55). Good stuff -- especially referring to pairings as games. We'd like to hear more of that.
10:37 AM: We interrupt your Open coverage to bring you an important announcement: Tiger Woods has a new. . . pool table cover.
OK, back to golf. . .
10:15 AM: Shaun Norris, off as a single at 9:20, makes his third birdie in the first five holes. The 35-year-old South African is playing in his first British Open. He's got a lot of golf to go, but a top 10 would earn him a return invite next year.
9:45 AM: The big British pairing of Justin Rose and Tommy Fleetwood. . . both bogey their first hole. And with each mistake by Fleetwood, one local man's hopes of cashing in a huge bet made a decade ago grow dimmer.
9:30: The day's first twosome (Shaun Norris went out as a single at 9:20) might just be the most popular pairing at Royal Birkdale. Local favorite Tommy Fleetwood and 1998 Open hero Justin Rose both made the cut on the number, but should get plenty of support.
****************** FRIDAY *******************
8:24 PM: Brooks Koepka, who held a share of the lead after Thursday, probably wasn't hoping to shoot a birdie-less two over 72 on Friday, but the U.S. Open champ is still very much in the hunt at three under. He's tied for third with Ian Poulter.
Hideki Matsuyama also posts a two over 72 and sits at even par after 36 holes.
Tommy Fleetwood looked like he shot himself out of the tournament on Thursday, but he bounced back with one of the seven rounds under par in the field on Friday. The one under 69 makes him the 78th player inside the cut line at five over.
8:13 PM: Looks like Royal Birkdale brings out the best in English amateurs with plant-based names. Awesome stat.
8:02 PM: Make that six rounds under par on Friday at Royal Birkdale as Jordan Spieth posts 69 to head into the weekend with a two shot lead at six under. It was a battle in the elements that featured four bogeys, three birdies and an eagle.
Brooks Koepka makes his way to the 18th tee still without a birdie. He's four back at three under and will need only par to begin Saturday's round in a tie for third.
7:54 PM: Gary Woodland posts the fifth under par round of the day, a one under 69. The two-time tour winner has now made the cut in all six of his Open Championship appearances.
7:45 PM: Padraig Harrington, the last winner at Royal Birkdale, needed birdie at the 18th to get to five over and on the cut line. Chipping from behind the front left greenside bunker Harrington hit one as good as he could have, but it just slips by on the right. What an effort.
7:37 PM: Amateur Alfie Plant went on to two-putt for par on the 18th in front of his raucous fan club to make the cut in his British Open debut. He'll be the only amateur that plays the weekend, which means he's won the silver medal, given to the low amateur at the Open Championship.
7:21 PM: With the cut at five over, it looks like amateur Alfie Plant will play the weekend in his home country. He's at four over and just found the green in regulation at the 18th.
Two guys lurking at one under are Gary Woodland and Robert Streb. Woodland has gone one over since his eagle-2 at the par-4 fifth, while Streb has just made back-to-back birdies at 11 and 12. They're tied for seventh with Hideki Matsuyama and Richard Bland, who just made double-bogey on the 13th after taking an unplayable.
Jordan Spieth falls back to six under after making his fourth bogey of the day at the 16th. He leads by two.
6:56 PM: Jordan Spieth makes an eagle-3 at the par-5 15th to extend his lead to three shots. A huge bounce back after the bogey on the par-3 14th. He's two under on the round.
Brooks Koepka has still yet to make a birdie on Friday, and to make matters worse, he just made his second bogey at the 13th. He's now four back at three under.
Russell Henley had a good look on 18 to post what would have been just the fifth under par round of the day, but it just slid by on the low side. The three-time tour winner cards his second consecutive even par 70 and is currently T12.
6:42 PM: High winds have made holes like the par-3 14th incredibly demanding, even for Jordan Spieth. He just made his third bogey of the day after finding the front bunker with his tee shot. He still holds the solo lead at five under. Matt Kuchar's one over 71 is beginning to look better and better as the days rolls on.
6:36 PM: Just as the weather began to improve, it's gotten ugly just as quickly. That means the cut line could continue to rise, something that would make some notable names very happy. If it stays at five over, Jason Day, Lee Westwood, Marc Leishman and Danny Willett would all be sticking around for the weekend.
6:27 PM: Spieth leaves his approach well short on the par-4 13th. No problem, he just chipped it to tap-in range and will save another par. Starting to make it look easy.
6:12 PM: Jordan Spieth hits one stiff on the par-3 12th and rolls in his second straight birdie to open up a two shot lead at six under. He's in the zone.
Playing partner Henrik Stenson also made back-to-back birdies at 11 and 12. The defending champ is now at one under for the tournament.
Ian Poulter makes a near impossible up and down par save from left of the green at the 18th hole to finish with an even par 70. He heads to the weekend in great shape at three under. Fellow countrymen Richard Bland turns in even par 34 to stay tied with Poulter at three under.
Since his lone bogey of the day at the sixth, Brooks Koepka has made four straight pars and is now two back of Spieth at four under.
5:58 PM: Despite the short delay, Jordan Spieth keeps the momentum going and pours in a birdie putt on the par-4 11th to take the solo lead at five under.
5:42 PM: Stop us if you've heard this one before, but Hideki Matsuyama is in contention at a major. The world no. 2 is at three under after back-to-back birdies on 7 and 8, just one off the lead.
Looks like play is about to get back underway. When it does, Ian Poulter will look get get back the shot he just dropped on the 16th at the par-5 17th. He's at three under, tied for fifth with Matsuyama.
Players were allowed to finish out the hole they were on if they chose to during the mini delay, and that's just what Steve Stricker did on the 18th. He taps in for par and a 72, putting him at two over overall and not only inside the cut line, but within striking distance of the leaders. This will extend his made cut streak at majors to 25, which means he just needs to make 14 more consecutive cuts at majors to match the record of 39 set by Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.
5:32 PM: On the par-4 10th, Jordan Spieth plugs his tee shot into a fairway bunker and has to chunk it back out into the fairway. His next shot sails the green, leaving him a testy chip that'd he would need to get up and down to just save bogey. Spieth struck one perfectly, and it found the bottom of the cup for a big par save to stay at four under. This guy is pretty good.
They've just blown the horn to halt play, but it sounds like they plan to hold the players in place until the heavy rain stops.
5:16 PM: The conditions are getting to those at the top of the leader board. Spieth, Koepka and Bland have all dropped shots and are now in a five way tie for the lead at four under with Matt Kuchar and Ian Poulter.
Meanwhile, Sung Kang, who nearly won the Quicken Loans National earlier this month, is one back at three under.
__4:56 PM:__The projected cut line just crept up to five over, which is still four strokes lower than the nine-over mark when Birkdale last hosted the Open in 2008. One person this will not benefit, however, is Phil Mickelson. The 2013 winner and runner-up last year at Troon to Henrik Stenson, had an up-and-down round Friday, making four birdies, eight bogeys and a triple, en route to a seven-over 77 and a 10-over 150 total. It's will be his first missed cut in the Open since 2012 and just the fifth time in 24 starts. It's also, impressively enough, his first missed cut of the entire 2016-'17 season. His last missed cut in any event came at the 2016 Deutsche Bank Championship.
As always with Lefty, he was able to make light of it, saying, "“Unfortunately it’s the first cut I’ve missed this year and I missed it with flair.”
4:47 PM: A birdie at the par-3 fourth gives Richard Bland a share of the lead at five under. He's made just one Open Championship appearance in his career, in 1998 at Royal Birkdale, where he missed the cut. Looks like the second time around is going a little better for the Englishmen.
Speaking of Englishmen, Chris Wood just pulled off the clutch shot to end all clutch shots. At five-over on the 18th, Wood was just outside the cut line, but an eagle-2 gets him safe and sound in the clubhouse at three over. Not a bad way to make the weekend in your home country.
4:11 PM: England's Richard Bland gets off to an excellent start with a long birdie putt from off the green on the par-4 second. Fellow countrymen Ian Poulter just made his first birdie of the day up ahead at the 12th. Just like that, two Englishmen move into a tie for third at four under with Matt Kuchar.
3:40 PM: Well, Jordan Spieth is officially human. He makes his first bogey of the Open Championship at the par-4 third and falls back to five under in a tie at the top with Brooks Koepka.
Despite the really ugly weather beginning to roll in, Gary Woodland was still able to hole his approach shot for eagle at the par-4 fifth. That gets him to two under for the championship, just three off the lead.
Meanwhile, Ian Poulter continues to plug along, turning in even par 34 to remain at three under.
3:30 PM: All the talk about the treacherous afternoon weather has not fazed Soren Kjeldsen and Thomas Pieters so far. Kjeldsen is three under on the day through 12 and two under for the tournament, while Pieters is two under on the day and three under for the tournament. Zach Johnson may have some competition for round of the day after all.
3:23 PM: After that easy birdie on the first, it finally looked like Jordan Spieth had flinched when his tee shot at the second found the fairway bunker. Instead, he splashed one out into the fairway, pitched the next one close and rolled it in for a par to remain bogey-free at the Open Championship. He's somehow done this despite hitting just five of 16 fairways so far.
All the way up ahead at the 18th, Bubba Watson has finished his eventful round of two over 72. Seriously, behold this ridiculous scorecard:
Earlier in the round, Bubba was overheard on the broadcast saying to his caddie, "I can't even play golf, man." At even par heading into the weekend at the Open Championship, he seems to be playing golf quite well.
3:00 PM: Jordan Spieth made the first hole look easy -- and actually, it's playing way easier than it was yesterday, since it's downwind on Friday -- so Spieth is now an outright leader at 6-under par.
The two-time major winner drained a putt inside 10 feet for his birdie. Brooks Koepka tees off shortly.
Meanwhile, Thomas Pieters has two straight birdies to kick off his second round. The Ryder Cup star is at 3-under par and right in the mix as he heads to the meat of the golf course.
2:45 PM: Rory McIlroy finishes off one of the best rounds of the day with a long-range par make at the 18th hole. The Northern Irishman is now just four shots off the lead after a two-under 68. What a comeback for Rory, who was 5-over through his first six holes yesterday.
Rory turned in an outward 31 this morning, but a couple double bogeys led to a 37 on his final nine.
Still, Rory's recovery is pretty amazing and ensures he'll be a factor on the weekend.
2:36 PM: One of the more surprising names making noise this morning might be Bubba Watson. The two-time Masters champion has missed the cut four times in eight appearances at The Open. But Bubba is fighting hard at Royal Birkdale -- and despite two double bogeys in seven holes on his inward nine, he has three birdies to cancel that out.
Bubba sits at even par with two holes left in his second round.
2:10 PM: As leaders Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka prepare to get their second rounds started shortly, the wind continues to pick up at Royal Birkdale -- we're seeing gusts of 30 miles per hour.
There is only one round better than 1-under from the morning right now, and that's Zach Johnson, who posted that 4-under 66 that looks like it might be picking up a handful of shots on the whole field.
1:51 PM: We have a roar at Royal Birkdale! And it's for Phil Mickelson! Let's check in on his round:
Not his best. Looks like Lefty won't make the cut, but nice to see a birdie on the par-3 14th.
1:40 PM: For a short time Matt Kuchar held the solo lead after a birdie on 15, but now he finds himself one back of the leaders after dropping two shots on his final three holes. The 1-over 71 has him at 4-under through 36 holes, which is a fine position to be in considering the afternoon forecast.
Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy has run into some big trouble on the par-5 15th. After pushing his tee shot well right, he hacked it out of the heavy fescue and it rolled into a fairway bunker. A par would be miraculous at this point.
Scotland's Richie Ramsay posts an even-par 70 and heads into the weekend at 2-under in his seventh Open Championship start. He's made just two cuts and finished no better than T-58 in the previous six appearances.
1:11 PM: Plenty of golf left to be played, but it feels safe to say no one is going to go lower than Zach Johnson did on Friday. The 2015 Open Champion just made his fifth and final birdie of the day on the 18th to post a four under 66. If not for his first round 75, ZJ would be right near the top of the leader board. He's at one over through 36, currently T32 and just six shots back.
Sergio Garcia posted the third under par round of the day, a one under 69 to get to two over for the tournament.
Unfortunately, Rory McIlroy is no longer bogey-free. He drops a shot on the par-4 13th to fall back to one under overall, but has plenty of opportunities left for birdies.
12:48 PM: Matt Kuchar regains the solo lead with his third birdie of the day at the par-5 15th. He's at six under, and would be thrilled with pars the rest of the way. The forecast is beginning to look much worse for Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka and the rest of the afternoon wave.
We haven't mentioned Rory in awhile, but he has made some excellent par saves to stay at three under on his round, two under for the tournament. He'll need to pull off another escape to stay bogey-free at the par-3 12th. He just found the front right bunker with his tee shot.
Perhaps attacking that gorse bush early in his round was the spark Sergio Garcia needed. Since then he's gone three under, which has him at one over overall. He's got one more chance at the difficult 18th to get back to level par.
12:40 PM: An update on some guys that have finished and look poised to make the cut:
Canada's Austin Connelly made three bogeys in his final six holes, but still managed to post a two over 72 and is just four back at one under for the championship.
Ernie Els wasn't as sharp as he was Thursday, but the two-time Open Champion is still in the mix through 36 holes. He posted a three over 73 to go with his first round 68 and sits at one over for the tournament.
One back of Els is Ross Fisher, who carded a two over 72 and is at two over through two rounds.
Andrew "Beef" Johnston isn't in as good of shape as the names mentioned above after shooting a four over 74. but is hanging around at three over overall. He'll have his eye on the cut line for the rest of the day.
12:26 PM: The rollercoaster ride that is Bubba Watson is in full force. Following his chip-in birdie at the sixth, he pulled his tee shot on the par-3 seventh and said to his caddie, "I can't even play golf, man." At four under in the Open Championship, that's debatable.
He went on to bogey, and on the eighth hole hit his approach shot into the gallery, this time opting for "are you kidding me right now!?"
Never a dull moment with Bubba. He's still at three under and T4.
12:10 PM: Despite appearing to injure his shoulder earlier in the round, Sergio Garcia has gutted it out on Friday. He just lipped out for what would have been his second eagle of the day on the par-5 15th. After tapping in for birdie, he moves to one under on the day, two over for the tournament.
One of the more unrecognizable names on the first page of the leader board is Kent Bulle, who's at three under. It's his Open Championship debut, and makes him the first golfer from Middle Tennessee State University to play in the event.
12:00 PM: Who says Bubba Watson's game isn't suitable for links golf ? The two-time Masters Champion is just one shot back in solo fourth at four under after making his second birdie of the day at the par-4 sixth. In eight tries at the Open, Bubba has made four cuts, with his best finish (T23) coming in 2012 at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.
11:41 AM: The first under par round of the day has been posted by Jamie Lovemark, a one under 69 that has him at even par through 36 holes. That will be good enough to get him into the weekend for the first time in just his second Open Championship appearance.
11:25 AM: We've got some fireworks. Rory McIlroy makes another birdie at the difficult par-4 sixth and is now just three shots back at two under. He seems to be dialed in, which is a scary thought for the rest of the field. The Northern Irishman would have the round of the day going if it wasn't for Zach Johnson. The 2015 Open Champion is four under through 12 holes, one over for the championship.
Behind Rory on the par-4 fifth is England's Lee Westwood, who just provided a home country roar by knocking in his approach shot for eagle. Westwood moves to one under on the round and even par for the tournament.
11:01 AM: After three pars and a birdie to begin his second round, Charl Schwartzel grabbed a share of the lead. One hole later, he's now two back after making double-bogey on the par-4 fifth.
Matt Kuchar turns in even par 34, keeping him in a tie for the lead. Even par is proving to be a very good score on Friday at Royal Birkdale.
Speaking of even par, Kuchar's playing partner Richie Ramsay made nine straight pars on his front nine and sits at two under for the championship. The Scotsmen is lurking.
10:30 AM: Rory McIlroy birdies the par-4 third to move into red numbers for the first time. Beginning with the 11th hole on Thursday, McIlroy now has six birdies in his past 11 holes. This, after starting the tournament five over through six holes. After his first round, McIlroy credited his caddie's four-letter-filled pep talk for the turnaround.
10:10 AM: For the second straight day, a pair of shoes is getting a lot of attention. After Jason Day divided the world with his white high-tops, it was Paul Casey's turn with his bright birthday shoes to celebrate his 40th birthday on Friday:
What you can't see are the large "40"s on the back of each shoe. And so far, they're not working. Casey, who was one off the lead entering the second round, has bogeyed four of his first six holes.
9:35 AM: Another bridie on the par-3 fourth gives Matt Kuchar the solo lead for the first time this week. Kuchar has seven career PGA Tour wins and eight top-10 finishes in major championships, but he's never won one of golf's four biggest events. That didn't stop our Mike Stachura from picking him to win, though.
9:19 AM: And just like that, Kuchar gets that dropped shot back with a chip-in birdie on No. 3. The 39-year-old's short game has been brilliant over the first 21 holes. Like this video of Kuchar cursing, but not really cursing.
9:05 AM: First-round co-leader Matt Kuchar makes his first bogey of the tournament after being unable to recover from a bad tee shot on the par-4 second. At four under overall, Kuchar remains the low man on the golf course right now, one back of Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka, who don't play until Friday afternoon.
8:26 AM: Rickie Fowler begins his second round with a perfect 3-wood off the first tee. After a disappointing 71 to start, the man who many picked to win will need a lot more shots like that to get back into the mix. The good news for Fowler is that it appears he'll get the best conditions to play in today.
8:15 AM: Andrew "Beef" Johnston three-putts back-to-back holes to drop to one over par for the tournament. His loyal -- and usually, very loud -- fans were presented with quite a challenge this morning. Not because their man is struggling, but because he played in the day's first group at 6:35.
8:05 AM: Jason Day and Sergio Garcia avoid serious trouble with their opening tee shot. Conditions are a lot easier on Royal Birkdale's first hole than they were on Thursday morning when the first eight groups played it in 23 over par. That means this guy isn't nearly as busy. At least, for now.
8:00 AM: Jason Day arrives on the first tee and many people will be happy to know he's not wearing those white high-tops from Thursday. Seriously, this and Justin Thomas wearing a tie were two of the biggest storylines on Thursday.
7:55 AM: Aaron Baddeley birdies the first hole to pop onto the leader board at two under. The Aussie hasn't played in the Open since 2012 and he's never played well in this event with six missed cuts and a T-69 in seven starts.