Spieth stays clear as birdies flow at Birkdale

Spieth stays clear as birdies flow at Birkdale

Spieth stays clear as birdies flow at Birkdale

Spieth had not played competitively since winning the Travelers Championship on his last start three weeks ago by holing a bunker shot on the first hole of a play-off with Daniel Berger. Since his ball twice splashed in Rae's Creek at Augusta National, Spieth found himself mostly frustrated in the game's biggest tournaments.

No one did it better than South African Branden Grace, who not only shot the round of the day but recorded the first 62 in major championship history - a feat he was blissfully unaware of as he climbed the leaderboard.

Spieth has unfairly been portrayed as a guy who plays well only when he makes a ton of putts.

"To be in after two days and be under par for this championship after the way I started, I'm ecstatic with that", said McIlroy, who finished up Friday as leaders Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka opened on a rain-soaked, windy course playing as a diametric opposite of the dry course in calm conditions Thursday.

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Finau did create some relief and space with a clutch birdie on the 15th to get back to 3-over.

"Across the board, I would call it "nine out of 10" and if that's the case it is going to be a really good score".

McIlroy had a 69, rarely a bad score in the third round of a major.

The only other man to reach five under was Charley Hoffman, who began his round with a sensational eagle at the hard opening hole that O'Meara quadruple-bogeyed.

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A win this week would change all of that, immediately qualifying him for the PGA Tour.

"They need to get out and water it a little bit".

Fortunately, the world No 3 produced an exquisite chip shot before holing his putt for a par and kept the momentum down the stretch of the inward nine. Prior to Thursday's round, he was 15 over par in his last five openers. He was pushed all the way during a day of low scoring by Matt Kuchar who shot a 66, marred only by a double-bogey on the 16th when within a shot of the lead. "So anytime I can come across the pond and play links it's special". "I committed to my shots today, had a lot of opportunities for birdies, made a couple of nice par saves, but it was relatively stress free given the scenario".

Spieth hit 4-iron from 215 yards, landing his ball on the front of the green and 60 feet from the pin. But I'm thinking about Jordan Spieth, Matt Kuchar, and Ian Poulter coming down the back nine Sunday afternoon and battling it out, shot-for-shot in a Sunday Shootout like no other. I'm very comfortable, relaxed. "When I was at 4-over I was definitely thinking cut-line". And it's tough not to like him now.

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"I couldn't have done much better today", admitted the Texan, even if he agonisingly failed to convert a putt for birdie at 18. "I know I've been around a while, but I also feel like I'm in about the prime of my golfing career. But I enjoy it because, as long as I approach it positively and recognize that this is what you want to feel because you're in the position you want to be in, then the easier it is to hit solid shots and to create solid rounds".

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