Spieth, Koepka, Kuchar lead American charge at British Open
Spieth, Koepka, Kuchar lead American charge at British Open
23 July, 2017, 01:37
No Englishman has ever won The Open at Royal Birkdale, with Americans and Australians dominating the nine previous editions held on the Southport links. It could be ominous, then, that the first round of the event's 146th staging was dominated by three of Uncle Sam's boys.
McIlroy will start the final round on 2 under and nine shots off Spieth, the leader. "And gave me a few positive thoughts".
What would it have required for a 10? "I think once you win one, obviously that's off your shoulder".
"I'm always more nervous playing in these four (major) tournaments than I am anything else", McIlroy said.
"Unfortunately it's the first cut I've missed this year and I missed it with flair", said Mickelson.
A wind-assisted three-wood 372 yards down the first and a chip to six feet got him up and running and, after leaving a 15ft attempt short, he birdied from 10ft at the third to get under par for the first time in the tournament. I'm loving it. I really am.
Rain began pounding Royal Birkdale on Wednesday afternoon, closing the course because of the lightning that accompanied the storm. With a few more shots like that, the 23 year old could be on his way to yet another major win.
After opening with a superb 65 at Royal Birkdale on Thursday, Spieth picked up a birdie at the 1st but bogeyed the 3rd and dropped another shot at 9 after overshooting the green with his approach.
"It's not as if I went through war out there". Their man had just fashioned a remarkable recovery that might yet go down as one of his most courageous stretches of golf. After a blustery day on Friday, the early players found the course to their liking, with lots of birdies on the board.
But yesterday leading British player Ian Poulter said the fans on the course were the real champions.
Koepka considers himself the consummate gamer, though.
"They're both huge rounds for very different reasons, but this was definitely the round that got me back into the championship".
US Open champion Koepka dropped a stroke at the notoriously hard 6th hole to go back to four under par, where he remained at the turn. "I think that's kind of what we know about the Open and I think that's what people enjoy about the Open - watching the hard wind, the rain, the guys just trying to survive out there". "It's close. It's very close... but control of the ball off the tee is going to be probably the most important statistic for me this weekend". "And it was just fun to get back playing again after taking four weeks off".
And if they're in the worst of the weather, that becomes a greater challenge than any of the pot bunkers dotting the fairways. Connelly is tied for third with US Open champion Brooks Koepka after a 66 which came courtesy of two closing birdies, a remarkable feat on his debut in the event. "It doesn't faze me", he insisted. However, patches of bad weather often last for only part of the day, creating different course conditions for different players.
He returned to action after the break with back-to-back birdies at the 11th and 12th and then sandwiched an eagle at the par-five 15th with two bogeys on an eventful back nine.
Another to finish with a flourish was Masters champion Sergio Garcia, who was five over with two to play after a double-bogey at 16 before his first birdie of the day at 17 was followed by his second at the last as he signed for a 73.
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