Published: Sun, July 23, 2017
Medicine | By Daryl Nelson

Spieth leads Kuchar by three through 54 at The Open

Spieth leads Kuchar by three through 54 at The Open

Only eight under-par rounds were recorded on Friday and just nine players finished below par after 36 holes. And he did it in atrocious conditions for golf.

"Our last start was a win [and] I also was very close at the U.S. Open and very close at the Masters, " he said.

Prior to a brief suspension in play forced by the day's most torrential downpour, Spieth was tied for the lead but looked certain to drop at least one shot at the par-four 10th, where he was forced to pitch out sideways from a fairway bunker and then flew the green with his third shot.

And just when it seemed like he too would fall victim to the near gale force winds and driving rain, he stemmed the flow of dropped shots with a touch of genius.

Spieth's effort was his lowest score in 17 rounds in this event, though a 66 on day three at St Andrews two years ago was better in relation to par. With very little green to work with, he showed velvety touch to chip the ball onto the putting surface and into the hole for his par.

How maddening it must be to play against Jordan Spieth. And I remember being on the course thinking - at one point on the 12th hole Saturday, I had 129 yards to the pin and hit a 6-iron in. 14 and 16 after some errant shots and another missed short putt. But there was more magic to come. "And then you've got guys like Henrik and Dustin, guys who are still young, but guys who have been around in contention many, many times, and it was sooner or later going to happen, and it did".

"Conditions were really hard today, almost the opposite wind of what we had yesterday", he said of the south-easterly that greeted the players when they arrived at the course in the morning.

Spieth said the eagle on 15 was crucial in regaining some momentum for his round. "I didn't hit a great drive. And just getting a feel for playing the different shots that you are required to play over here".

"I lined up way left with the whipping wind off the left, just to open the face and have [the ball] get anywhere around or over the green", he said.

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Last week he finished tied fourth in the Scottish Open and knows he is now well placed for Sunday's final shakedown.

"Unfortunately it's the first cut I've missed this year and I missed it with flair", said Mickelson. Another 18 shot even par. "So really nice to capitalize on it".

"Everything he does is pretty much spot on, the way he handles himself, the grace in which he plays the sport I think is incredible". I'm excited about it. "Today is my day". But it is for the first Open, and I would be lying if I didn't say I'm going to feel plenty of nerves as we start this weekend and throughout the weekend.

"I love links golf". It was up to 95 percent (chance of rain) by 4:00, chance of rain 100% by 5:00. "You just try to find the fairways, and it was hard with 25 to 30 mile-per-hour winds". So I'm playing about where my score stands I think.

Ian Poulter ground out a par round to be three strokes behind Spieth.

"So it [Augusta 2016] was a humbling experience that I thought at the time could serve me well going forward".

Spieth, who won the Masters and the US Open in 2015 and is still only 23, had five birdies, including two in a row just before the turn, and no bogeys to position himself at the top of the leaderboard.

"I felt like I was in control of the golf ball pretty much all day", said Koepka.

By that time he had made six bogeys and been overtaken by Rickie Fowler, who picked up a shot at the hard 6th and then holed a magnificent 60ft-plus putt for a birdie two from a swale besides the 7th, where his ball finished to a chorus of groans after his tee shot pitched at the edge of green and stayed there for a few seconds.

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