January 22, 2018

British Open: Kuchar posts career-best in major to share lead

23 July 2017, 02:45 | Dan Bryan

Comparisons with Tiger Woods may be premature but it is hard to ignore that a win on Sunday would give him his third major at the age of 23 - a year younger than Woods when he secured his third major title.

The 2014 champion and four-time major victor surged to within three shots of the lead with a front nine three-under 31, having slipped 10 behind through six holes of his first round.

All that mattered to him was the present.

After holding a share of the first-round lead with countrymen Jordan Spieth and US Open champion Brooks Koepka, Kuchar posted a one-over-par 71 in brutal conditions on Friday (Saturday NZ Time) to hold firm.

He's one good Sunday away from wrapping his hands around the Claret Jug. Spieth then delivered his second bogey-free round of the week in which he never came seriously close to a bogey.

Spieth said the eagle on 15 was crucial in regaining some momentum for his round.

SOUTHPORT, England (AP) - The sixth hole at Royal Birkdale lived up to its fearsome reputation Thursday.

Connelly missed the cut last week in Italy before coming over to Royal Birkdale.

Jordan Spieth will be trying to complete the third leg of a career Grand Slam. The Australian came second at the Open five years ago, prior to winning the Masters in 2013.

Ryder Cup team-mate Kuchar will join Spieth in tomorrow's final group after he battled to a one-over-par 71 on a day when only six players, including Spieth, broke 70.

Spieth was embracing both memories. "I definitely see him being unsafe over the weekend". "You probably didn't understand me". I tried to make two birdies each side today, but I was able to better it by one with that bonus on the 18th.

"I've definitely had some low spots in the last 18 months and I was getting very down", the 41-year-old told reporters.

"And I'm expecting something like that tomorrow".

Spieth, Koepka take lead in opening round at British Open
After a blustery day on Friday, the early players found the course to their liking, with lots of birdies on the board. His round featured four bogeys, three birdies and an eagle - the latter coming on the 15th hole.

Spieth has unfairly been portrayed as a guy who plays well only when he makes a ton of putts. He carded four bogeys but cancelled them out with three birdies and a clinker of an eagle on 15. "We had a good time", Koepka said. "I was trying to look within myself". You've just got to hit a golf ball, that's all you have to do.

Koepka also struggled to find birdies for the Round 2.

Koepka hadn't played since he romped at Erin Hills in Wisconsin to win the U.S. Open. It took 44 years for someone to top it. And it was a huge part of the tournament for Spieth. They combined for 12 birdies, such impressive golf that Kuchar said a couple of times they forgot who had honors on the tee box.

After a horrendous start that saw the 2014 Open champion bogey five of his first six, he fought back to keep himself in a respectable spot on the leaderboard.

T5. Branden Grace (-4): There will be no shortage of takes for Grace's 62, but that's expected when history is made in a sport that sees changes in venue every week and conditions by the hour. He lost it around the turn, making back-to-back bogeys, and then a double bogey at No. 10 when he blasted out of one pot bunker left of the fairway and it spun toward another, resting in the thick collar.

For McIlroy, it could have been far worse as his all-round game deserted him from the off, and he did well to limit the damage to a bogey at the opening hole before he dropped four strokes in a row from the third. "I've done the same thing for years".

Hoffman shot 69 and was in a group that included Ian Poulter and Rafa Cabrera Bello.

Spieth, though, defied a torrential downpour - which led to ground staff needing nearly half an hour to sponge the rain-soaked greens - to assume control with his eagle on the par-5 15th.

That duo go out in the final pairing at 16:55 on Saturday.

More than half the field broke par.

" ... If I start playing four or five weeks in a row, everything just seems to get nonchalant. I feel like I certainly have as good a chance as anybody". There is plenty of confidence that D.J. can go low, but much less confidence that the leaders will fall back enough to bring him into the mix. "I was very calm".

"Once the horn blew for the delay it couldn't have been better timing".

Jordan Spieth has overcome insane cross-winds, squalls and a 25-minute rain delay to seize the outright halfway lead at the British Open.

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