The Latest: Spieth, Kuchar separate themselves from field
SOUTHPORT, England (AP) The Latest from the British Open (all times local):
After a beautiful day that made for perfect scoring conditions, some weather is moving into the British Open.
That has some potential to cause problems for the leaders, who are on the back nine as the wind is picking up and a few raindrops are coming down.
Most of the players are already in the clubhouse or on their way home, and a lot of those are very happy about it. Of the first 61 players, 34 broke par, including the 62 by Brendan Grace that set a record for major championship play.
Jordan Spieth and Matt Kuchar are under par, too, and have separated themselves from the field. Spieth was 9 under through 13, while Kuchar was 7 under, three ahead of the nearest contender, Grace.
Spieth, who has won the Masters and U.S. Open, is trying for his first British Open title. Kuchar has yet to win a major championship.
Midway through the third round, Jordan Spieth still has the same two-shot lead he began the day with.
Matt Kuchar is still second, as the two match each other across Royal Birkdale. Spieth is at 9 under for the tournament, while Kuchar is 7 under.
Spieth didn’t drop a shot on the front nine, making three birdies and no bogeys as he tries to win his first British Open title. Kuchar stayed with him, making four birdies against a bogey on the front.
Brooks Koepka is another two shots back.
Rory McIlroy appeared poised to make a run, with three birdies in his first five holes. But McIlroy made a double bogey on the 10th hole and was at 1 under.
Ian Poulter got big cheers from the home crowd as he made his way around. He was five shots off the pace, tied with Branden Grace, who broke the major championship scoring record with a 62.
Shortly after Branden Grace shot his 62, Dustin Johnson flirted with a record low himself.
It was not to be, but Johnson’s 6-under-64 put him on the leaderboard at the British Open, just five shots off the lead owned by Jordan Spieth.
Johnson looked like he might have a chance to match Grace’s 62, which set a record for low score in a major championship. But he missed an 8-footer on No. 16 and could not birdie the reachable 17th hole.
He finished with three straight pars to move to 3 under for the tournament.
Matt Kuchar moved into a tie for the lead in the British Open – but only for the briefest of moments.
Kuchar’s second straight birdie on the third hole moved him to 6 under for the tournament, tied with Jordan Spieth. But Spieth had a tap-in for a birdie of his own, and quickly regained the top spot at 7 under.
After Kuchar made bogey on the next hole, Spieth had the same two-shot lead he started the day with.
Former champion Rory McIlroy (2014) continued his comeback from an opening-round string of bogeys, chipping in on the fourth hole for one of three birdies in his opening six holes. McIlroy was at 4 under, three shots out of the lead.
Jordan Spieth has the lead as he tees off in the British Open, despite some very low scores on the day.
Spieth teed off with a two-shot lead over Matt Kuchar, his playing partner, and Branden Grace. Spieth was 6 under through two rounds after an opening 65 followed by a 69.
He began play just after Grace finished a record round of 8-under-62 that got him to 4 under for the Open. Grace became the first player to shoot a 62 in major championship history, and also broke the Royal Birkdale course record by a stroke.
Spieth’s first shot, a 3-wood, found the left rough, while Kuchar hit his down the middle of the fairway.
Branden Grace didn’t realize he was making major championship history with an 8-under-62 in the British Open.
But he did, sinking a 2-footer on the final hole to break the former mark of 63 held by several players.
Grace said he was trying to finish the round without a bogey and wanted to make one final birdie on the last hole. He said sometimes it helps not to know records.
Grace said it was just a special day at Royal Birkdale, where the winds were calm and the scoring conditions perfect.
His score also set a course record, on a day when there were already three 65s and three 66s among the early starters.
Branden Grace has made major championship history.
The South African shot an 8-under-62 Saturday, the lowest score ever in a major championship. He broke the previous mark of 63 by making eight birdies against no bogeys, finishing with a par from just off the back of the green on the 18th hole.
Grace put it to within 2 feet for his final putt.
The 62 also broke the course record at Royal Birkdale, set by Jamie Mudd in the fourth round of the British Open in 1991.
Grace’s record round moved him near the top of the leaderboard, just two shots behind Jordan Spieth. Grace, who began the day one stroke inside the cut line, was at 4 under.
On an average Saturday morning, Gregg Pettersen would be working a busy shift in the pro shop at Royal Birkdale.
This time, he was playing in front of thousands at the British Open.
Pettersen, a club professional of 15 years at Birkdale, got a call at around 9.50 p.m. local time on Friday that he’d be the marker in the first group of the third round, alongside Shaun Norris of South Africa.
He was nervous on the first tee, not quite believing how many spectators were watching him. But he quickly settled down. Pettersen and Norris shook hands and put their arms around each other’s shoulders as they walked the 18th fairway, and the 38-year-old Pettersen tapped in for bogey for what he thought was a round of 5 over.
He had his best friend, Paul, on his bag and said the experience was ”a bit surreal.”
After a round of media interviews, he was back working in the shop.
The first weekend score is in the books at the British Open – and it’s a good one.
Shaun Norris, playing with a marker after making the cut on the number, shot a 5-under-65 on Royal Birkdale, setting the pace for what could be a day of low scoring.
In near perfect conditions, the South African journeyman made five birdies against no bogeys to move to even par in the tournament.
Norris finished several hours before Jordan Spieth and others on the leaderboard tee off. After a blustery day on Friday, the early players found the course to their liking, with lots of birdies on the board.