The Open 2017: Jordan Spieth tightens grip on Claret Jug xylographer

Author : retailable1908
Publish Date : 2021-04-08 18:55:05


The Open 2017: Jordan Spieth tightens grip on Claret Jug xylographer

The American countered Branden Grace's men's major record of 62 with a 65 of his own to take a three-shot lead over Matt Kuchar into the final round of the 146th Open.

Spieth, 23, finished 11 under to close in on his third major title after winning the Masters and US Open in 2015.

US Open champion Brooks Koepka and unheralded 20-year-old Canadian Austin Connelly were in a tie for third on five under, one clear of South Africa's Grace and world No. 2 Hideki Matsuyama, who is bidding to become the first Japanese man to win a major.



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World No.1 Dustin Johnson fought back with a 64 -- the second best round of the day -- to end alongside defending champion Henrik Stenson on three under.

But Spieth and Kuchar set up another final-day duel reminiscent of 12 months ago when Stenson and Phil Mickelson went toe-to-toe at Royal Troon.

Beating Tiger

Spieth won the Masters from start to finish in 2015 and was set to do it again the following year, only to blow a five-shot lead with nine to play to finish second. He has, he says learnt from what was a 'humbling experience.'

'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 Spieth.

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

'So it [Augusta 2016] was a humbling experience that I thought at the time could serve me well going forward. And if I don't win [Sunday], it has nothing to do with that. It has to do with it was someone else's day, and I didn't play as well as I should have. And if I win it has nothing to do with that, either.'

Victory Sunday would place Spieth alongside Jack Nicklaus as the only men to win three majors by the age of 24 -- he turns 24 Thursday. Tiger Woods had only won two by his 24th birthday.

READ: Spieth renews Tiger Woods comparisons with 10th title before 24

It would also put Spieth one leg away from the career Grand Slam of all four majors with just the US PGA to go.

Only five men have won all of golf's four majors at some stage in their career - Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Nicklaus and Woods.

'Emotionally draining'

The 39-year-old Kuchar, who is regarded as one of the best current players not to have won a major, has had eight top-10 finishes in majors and was fourth in the Masters in April. But the Floridian has never played in the final group in a major.

'Walking up the 18th, the last group Saturday of a British Open, having the stands and the people cheer, it's completely unique,' he said, after suggesting to Spieth they take it all in.

'It's completely different than any tournament we play in the United States, and just kind of soaked it in for a second, and said, 'This is pretty cool.''



Spieth said: 'Matt keeps things light. He's a funny guy. I really enjoy playing golf with him.'

But the Texan added: 'Tomorrow will be a day that will be emotionally draining and difficult to stay very neutral in the head, but that's probably the most important thing for me to do.'

Amazing Grace

Grace laid down the early challenge Saturday, setting the stage in balmy conditions compared with the gales and deluge of Friday.

A rain-softened course was there for the taking and the 29-year-old helped himself to eight birdies, needing just a par up the last to make history. In majors, 31 players have shot 63, including 10 in the Open, but 62 had become untouchable.

'I didn't know what was going on on 18. I promise you,' Grace told reporters.

He only realized the significance when the final putt dropped and his caddie Zack Rasego, who won the Open with Louis Oosthuizen in 2010, rushed up to congratulate him.

'Zack came up and said, 'You're in the history books.' And I was like, 'What are you talking about?

'To do it at the Open Championship is pretty special.'

READ: Tips from Federer, skydiving, mind games -- pros prepare for the Open

READ: Links, lies and ladybirds -- 7 things to know about the Open

READ: Beacons of beauty -- the world's best golf links

READ: How a car crash shaped Koepka's US Open destiny

World No. 4 Rory McIlroy, without a major since 2014, looked set to make hay when he holed a sublime chip on the fourth for his second birdie of the round.

He found the green with an audacious drive on the par-four fifth but left his eagle putt agonizingly short.

From then on the early fireworks petered out and he could only must a 69 for two under.

Spieth's surge

Spieth, meanwhile, was forging ahead.

Animated, always chuntering -- to caddie Michael Greller and himself -- and quick to acknowledge the outstretched hands of fans as he swept past, Spieth pushed his lead back to two over playing partner Kuchar with a second straight birdie at the eighth.

The afternoon sun was being elbowed out of the way by a bank of deep purple clouds and an amber weather warning for thunderstorms was put in place.

The tall, perma-grinned Kuchar -- greeted everywhere with the trademark 'Kuuuuch' from the crowd -- closed the gap to one with a birdie on the short 14th and added another on the par-five 15th as rain began to fall.

Spieth's turn next, buthe hit a wayward eagle putt to eight feet before averting what could have been a decisive swing with an ice-cool birdie putt to maintain his one-shot cushion.

The shower was short-lived and so was Kuchar's pressing.

A double bogey at the 16th gave Spieth a three-shot cushion.

But in another late change, the pair both found a greenside bunker on the par-five 17 -- Kuchar got up and down for birdie, Spieth could only make par.

And then a final twist on 18 after that pause to survey the scene. Spieth holed a putt for birdie from the fringe as Kuchar made par.

Three clear again.

Visit CNN.com/golf for more news and videos

Sunday's stage is set.



#newsupdatenow



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