Spieth fires 65, leads Kuchar by three at Birkdale
Following a birdie at 18 and a round of 5-under 65, Jordan Spieth will take a three-shot lead over Matt Kuchar into the final round of The 146th Open.
Here’s how it all played out on a historic Saturday at Royal Birkdale, where Branden Grace fired the first 62 in men's major championship history:
Leaderboard: Spieth (-11), Kuchar (-8), Austin Connelly (-5), Brooks Koepka (-5), Grace (-4), Hideki Matsuyama (-4), Dustin Johnson (-3), Henrik Stenson (-3), Kim Chan (-3), Rafa Cabrera Bello (-3)
What it means: Spieth is in pursuit of his third major championship and the third leg of the Grand Slam. A win Sunday would give Spieth his first crack at the career slam at the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow in three weeks. To get there, he’ll have to hold off Kuchar, the 39-year-old looking to validate an already quality career with his first major championship. A seven-time PGA Tour winner and the bronze medalist last year in Rio, Kuchar since 2010 has racked up eight major top-10s and three top-5s. Chasing those two, Koepka is looking to join an elite list of players who have won the U.S. Open and The Open in the same year (Woods, Watson, Trevino, Hogan, Sarazen, Jones). Playing with Koepka in front of the leaders, 20-year-old Connelly, who like Spieth is coached by Cameron McCormick, is looking to make an immediate splash in his first major start. Big names like Grace, Matsuyama, Johnson and Stenson all also lurk on the first page of the leaderboard.
Round of the day: Grace became the first man in history to shoot 62 in a major. He made eight birdies and zero bogeys. He hit 34 shots and rolled 28 putts. A birdie at the 17th got him to 8 under and a par at the 18th made him Mr. 62. He’ll start Sunday 4 under for the week, seven back.
Best of the rest: World No. 1 Johnson looked for a while like he might follow Grace with a 62 of his own. Although that bid came up short, Johnson used his bogey-free 64 to pull into a tie for seventh at 3 under.
Biggest disappointment: On day ripe for low scores, Ian Poulter was one of only two players (Bubba Watson) in the top 39 on the leaderboard that shot over par. Playing in the second-to-last pairing, his round went south when he made three straight bogeys at Nos. 11-13 en route to a 1-over 71. He’ll start Sunday nine back, at 2 under.
Quote of the day: “It was a special day. I had no idea that was the lowest at all. I was so in the zone, was trying to finish the round without a bogey. Sometimes it helps not knowing these things. – Grace on not knowing the circumstances surrounding his round of 62