Open Championship 2017: Jordan Spieth closes in on victory as Branden Grace makes historical past

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South Africa’s Branden Grace carded the primary 62 in males’s main championship historical past as Jordan Spieth took a step nearer to his personal place within the file books at Royal Birkdale.

Grace took benefit of preferrred circumstances and a par-70 format lowered to 7,027 yards to card eight birdies and surge by means of the sector within the 146th Open Championship.

The 29-year-old’s sensible effort took him from 4 over par to 4 underneath, though that was nonetheless seven pictures behind two-time main winner Spieth, who carded a second bogey-free 65 of the week.

At 11 underneath par, Spieth loved a three-shot lead over enjoying associate Matt Kuchar, with 20-year-old Canadian debutant Austin Connelly – buddy of Spieth – three pictures additional again alongside US Open champion Brooks Koepka. 

Grace shared fifth place with world quantity two Hideki Matsuyama, with defending champion Henrik Stenson, world primary Dustin Johnson, Rafael Cabrera Bello and Chan Kim on three underneath.

Rory McIlroy squandered a flying begin to card a 69 and end on two underneath alongside Scotland’s Richie Ramsay and the English duo of Ross Fisher and Ian Poulter.

A victory on Sunday would make Spieth solely the second participant after Jack Nicklaus to have received three of the sport’s 4 majors earlier than the age of 24.

“That would be incredible,” Spieth mentioned. “I’ve had a five-shot lead in a major and squandered it before. I’ve had the high and the humbling so I will keep my head down and not get ahead of myself.”

But when he does get his fingers on the Claret Jug, the 23-year-old may then surpass the file of Tiger Woods because the youngest participant to finish a profession grand slam within the US PGA Championship at Quail Hole in August.

The unhealthy information for the chasing pack is that Spieth has transformed 5 of his final 36-hole leads into victories. The excellent news may very well be that the exception is final 12 months’s Masters, the place he blew that five-shot lead with simply 9 holes to play.

Spieth had taken a two-shot benefit into the third spherical, and regardless of three birdies within the first eight holes, was initially unable to shake off the attentions of Ryder Cup team-mate Kuchar.

Kuchar matched Spieth’s entrance 9 of 31 and briefly held a share of the lead when he birdied the 14th and 15th, however Spieth adopted Kuchar in on the par-five 15th and noticed Kuchar double bogey the following.

A birdie on the 17th noticed Kuchar shut the hole and he appeared set to make one other on the final, solely to overlook from six ft after Spieth had holed from greater than twice the space.

Greater than 4 hours earlier, Grace had tapped in for par on the identical gap blissfully unaware of what he had simply achieved.

“I didn’t know what was going on on 18. I promise you,” Grace mentioned, who solely realised when instructed by his caddie. “I used to be simply so within the zone of enjoying, gap after gap.

“I knew I used to be clearly enjoying rather well and making the flip in 5 underneath was fairly particular. I assumed if I may make a pair extra on the again 9, then it is going to be an excellent rating. I had no concept that 62 was clearly the bottom ever.

“Now it makes the day even sweeter.”

Remarkably, Grace’s 62 appeared like being matched quickly after as Johnson performed his first 10 holes in 5 underneath par, however the big-hitting American may solely discover yet another birdie and settled for a 64.

The low scoring continued as McIlroy holed from 4 ft on the primary, chipped in for birdie on the fourth and two-putted the quick fifth for one more after driving the inexperienced, solely to bogey the seventh and eighth.

A birdie on the ninth revived hopes of a title problem, however the 2014 champion barely escaped a fairway bunker on the 10th on his method to a double-bogey six.

“I was hitting it well, couldn’t have asked to get off to a better start,” McIlroy mentioned. “I used to be actually rolling and the bogeys on seven and eight stopped me in my tracks. I bounced again properly on the ninth however the six on the 10th was an actual kick within the tooth.

“I should have hit a club to take all the bunkers out of play but hit a three iron which was the worst club. It was a huge mental error and I lost the head a little bit there and didn’t capitalise on some of the chances I gave myself coming in.”

Stenson had all-but written off his possibilities of making a profitable title defence after ending 26th in final week’s Scottish Open.

However the 41-year-old Swede, whose rental home was burgled throughout his first spherical on Thursday, joined Johnson on three underneath par after carding six birdies and a solitary bogey in a 65.