British Open: Day Three

Rory McIlroy is looking to chase down Jordan Spieth at the top of the leaderboard on Saturday

Ruaidhrí Croke Sat, Jul 22
 
LIVE: British Open: Day Three

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  • 14:22

    Good afternoon and welcome to day three at the Open Championship! It's a beautiful sunny day on the Southport coast and conditions are absolutely perfect for scoring. So perfect in fact that we may have a record low score on our hands at a major championship. Branden Grace is -6 for the day after 14, has two par fives left and needs two birdies for the first 62 in major history. I'm Ruaidhri Croke and I'll be with you for the afternoon as the chasing pack look to make their moves and catch Jordan Spieth at the top of the leaderboard. You can get involved by using the 'Contact Us' button at the top of the blog or you can get me on Twitter @Ruaidhri_Croke.


    LEADING SCORES


    -6: Jordan Spieth


    -4: Matt Kuchar


    -3: Ian Poulter, Brooks Koepka


    -2: Branden Grace (14), Richie Ramsay


    -1: Dustin Johnson (8), Austin Connelly, Rory McIlroy, Gary Woodland, Richard Bland


    THIRD ROUND TEE TIMES


    9.20 am:  Shaun Norris
    9.30 am:  Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose
    9.40 am:  Webb Simpson, Mike Lorenzo-Vera
    9.50 am:  Younghan Song, Danny Willett
    10 am:  Scott Hend, Marc Leishman
    10.10 am:  Lee Westwood, Sean O’Hair
    10.20 am:  Brandon Stone, David Drysdale
    10.30 am:  Andy Sullivan, Jason Day
    10.40 am:  Aaron Baddeley, Toby Tree
    10.50 am:  Joe Dean, James Hahn
    11.05 am:  Thomas Pieters, Alfie Plant (a)
    11.15 am:  Peter Uihlein, K.T. Kim
    11.25 am:  Branden Grace, Jason Dufner
    11.35 am:  Andrew Dodt, Xander Schauffele
    11.45 am:  Charl Schwartzel, Daniel Berger
    11.55 am:  Jimmy Walker, Martin Kaymer
    12.05 pm:  Bernd Wiesberger, Matthew Southgate
    12.15 pm:  Tony Finau, J.B. Holmes
    12.25 pm:  Thongchai Jaidee, Chris Wood
    12.35 pm:  Kevin Na, Jon Rahm
    12.50 pm:  Dustin Johnson, Paul Casey
    1 pm:  Adam Scott, Andrew Johnston
    1.10 pm:  Yikeun Chang, Henrik Stenson
    1.20 pm:  Steve Stricker, Matthew Fitzpatrick
    1.30 pm:  Soren Kjeldsen, Laurie Canter
    1.40 pm:  Li Haotong, Thorbjorn Olesen
    1.50 pm:  Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia
    2 pm:  Ross Fisher, Sung-hoon Kang
    2.10 pm:  Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson
    2.20 pm:  Ernie Els, Chan Kim
    2.35 pm:  Hideki Matsuyama, Russell Henley
    2.45 pm:  Alex Noren, Kent Bulle
    2.55 pm:  Bubba Watson, Rafael Cabrera-Bello
    3.05 pm:  Charley Hoffman, Joost Luiten
    3.15 pm:  Jamie Lovemark, Richard Bland
    3.25 pm:  Gary Woodland, Rory McIlroy
    3.35 pm:  Austin Connelly, Richie Ramsay
    3.45 pm:  Brooks Koepka, Ian Poulter
    3.55 pm:  Matt Kuchar, Jordan Spieth

  • 14:34

    We have little or no wind at Birkdale and we're going to see low scores without a doubt. World number one Dustin Johnson has a birdie putt at the ninth to go out in 29 shots and climb to -2, putting himself right in this championship.  

    After yesterday's howling winds and rain it's all very benign on the old links today and sets up perfectly for the chasing pack to catch Spieth, possibly even before he tees off alongside Kuchar at 3.55. McIlroy goes out with Woodland at 3.25 and will be looking for a fast start to start moving up the leaderboard yesterday. Since being +5 after six holes on Thursday the four-time major winner has been in sensational form, rescuing that round to shoot 71 and following it with a 68 yesterday. If he can keep that form going we may just have a mouth-watering showdown between himself and Spieth tomorrow. At his best there is absolutely no one better to watch that McIlroy and he's been at his very best for the last 27 holes.

    But, so has Spieth. He's been in his best form for the last 36 holes, in fact. And, playing like that, we all know how tough the two-time major winner is to beat. If he can keep wielding his putter as he has over the first two days it's hard to see anyone beating him. One thing for certain is that there will be birdies, there will be drama and it will make for compelling viewing. Just under 90 minutes now until the final pairing go out and less than an hour until McIlroy-time!

    I can tell you that Johnson has missed that birdie putt at the ninth and remains -1 for the tournament. One ahead of him is Grace who failed to birdie the par five 15th and now needs to find a birdie either at the 16th or 18th, as well as at the par five 17th, to beat the major scoring record. So far we've already had a 65 from Jason Day to get him back to level par so a record-breaking score is certainly there!

  • 14:43
  • 14:45

    Hello, Branden Grace. Hello, major championship scoring record?

    Well we might just be saying that soon. The South African has rolled in a raker of a birdie putt at the 16th to go -7 for the day! A birdie at the par five 17th and a par at the last hole and he will make history!

  • 14:47
    It's really hotting up at Birkdale now! Over at the 10th Johnson has rattled in another birdie putt and is now -5 for the day and up to a tie for sixth at -2. Grace is one better and tied third with Poulter and Koepka. Could we possibly see 63 being broken twice?!
  • 14:49
    Rickie Fowler comes within inches of a hone in one at the par FOUR fifth! His drive hopped, skipped and bounded up the the green, finishing six inches from the hole. What a shot that was! He's tapped in for the two and is now back to level par.
  • 14:50
  • 14:59

    This golf course is absolutely here for the taking today and you have to fancy McIlroy to do it. The only thing is you also have to fancy Spieth to do the same ... and Poulter ... and Koepka ... and Kuchar.

    It's certainly all change from the storm of yesterday and you can read Philip Reid's report from day two below, as well as a recap of McIlroy at his best and, finally, our golf correspondent's experience of taking a Dustin Johnson approach shot to the cheekbone.

    Composed Spieth eases into pole position

    He's back - McIlroy struts his stuff at Birkdale

    If you're going to get hit by a ball, its might as well be Dustin Johnson's

  • 15:02

    Back we go to the 17th where Grace has a 35 foot putt down the hill for a eagle! Could we possibly see a 61?

    Well...maybe not quite. Everybody calm down. But there is a very good chance we'll see the first ever 62 in major history. Grace lags his long putt down the slops beautifully, his ball coming to a halt inches from the hole and he taps in for birdie to go -8 for the day! He's now -4 for the championship, tied second with Kuchar and just two behind Spieth. He was 300/1 to win the tournament at the start of the day!

  • 15:04
  • 15:10

    Okay, here we go. History is on the horizon and creeping ever closer. Grace went with the driver from the 18th tee and found a lovely lie in the first cut on the left hand side with a perfect angle to go at the pin. However, the adrenaline is pumping through his veins now and he flies it to the back of the green where it bounds on down the fringe. Up and down from there for history.

    Meanwhile, at the seventh Sergio Garcia has rolled in his second birdie of the day to get back to level par for the tournament.

    It's a birdie bonanza at Birkdale!

  • 15:15

    Grace is prowling around his putt in the arena of the 18th green where the grandstands are packed in the hope of witnessing golfing history before the leaders have even teed off.

    And they almost certainly will now! From over the back of the green the South African lags a beautiful long putt down to three feet. He marks his ball and steps away to let Jason Dufner finish.

  • 15:17

    It's there!

    Branden Grace becomes the first man in major championship history to shoot a 62!

    Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan or any of the other greats to have played this game could never manage that. There have been hundreds of thousands of rounds played in majors and no one has ever gone around in less strokes that Branden Grace.

    He also finishes his round tied second at -4 and is now right in this championship.

    Amazing Grace.

  • 15:20
  • 15:22

    Well it took over a century and a half for the first 62 in major championship history but we might just have a second within an hour or so. At the 13th Johnson has made a clutch par putt from 10 feet to remain -5 for the day. Three more birdies in his final five holes - which includes two par fives - and he'll match Grace's round.

    But let's get back to the first tee. It's McIlroy time!

  • 15:29

    McIlroy has to be aggresive today and take the course on and he's doing so right from the outset. It's driver off the first, as opposed to a one iron on Thursday and a three-wood yesterday. He launches his tee shot down the right where it lands soft and trickles into the first cut. That's perfect there and a good angle to attack the pin.

    Woodland's tee shot turns left and lodges in the heavy rough.

    Talking to Sky Sports, Branden Grace has said he didn't even know he was on the verge of history with a 62! He only realised when his caddy told him afterwards. It's probably a good thing - in fairness. If he had known he might now have done it!

  • 15:34

    What a start from McIlroy! He launches a wedge straight over the pin where it bounces and checks up just five feet away! Knock that in and it's the perfect start for the 28-year-old.

    Meanwhile, Johnson has parred the par four 14th and will need to make the most of the two par fives coming up if he's to steal Grace's thunder. He remains -2 for the tournament and four behind Spieth who is due off in 20 minutes.

  • 15:37

    It's a birdie to start for McIlroy!

    Watch out, the man is on fire. That's his eighth birdie in 28 holes and he moves straight up to -2 after one hole.

    As usual, if you're wondering about the fortunes of any particular player you can get in touch by using the 'Contact Us' button at the top of the blog and I'll fill you in with all of the info.

  • 15:38

    -6: Spieth

    -4: Grace (F:62), Kuchar

    -3: Poulter, Koepka

    -2: Johnson (14), McIlroy (1), Ramsay

    -1: Stenson (12), Henley (5), Woodland (1), Connelly

  • 15:39
  • 15:44

    At the second, McIlroy took the iron off the tee and found the left rough. However, from a decent lie he's muscled an approach up to the heart of the green where he'll face 25 feet or so for a birdie, birdie start.

    Back at the first, Ramsay and Connelly have got underway with Koepka and Poulter next to tee off before the final group.

  • 15:51

    "Fore left" is the shout as Koepka's drive turns left and rockets into the gallery. Poulter launches a perfect drive down the right of the fairway to almost the exact same spot McIlroy played from.

    And, up ahead at the green, 20-year-old Austin Connelly has rolled in a birdie putt to get off to the perfect start and move to -2. He seems to have absolutely no nerves does this young man. Alongside him it's a bogey to start for Ramsay and he falls back to -1.

    Up to the second green and McIlroy's long birdie effort. It comes up over the ridge, breaking left to right and for all the world looks to be in! But at the very last it moves back to the left and stays out. What an effort that was but it's still an excellent start for McIlroy and he remains -2 for the tournament.

    Finally, at the par five 15th Johnson has successfully navigated it in four strokes to get to -3 for the tournament and -6 for the day. Two more birdies in his final three holes and we have a second 62 in the space of an hour!

  • 15:55

    Matsuyama becomes the latest man to get to -2 with a birdie at the seventh. It's really beginning to hot up now.


    In fact, it's almost reached boiling point over at the second. Austin Connelly - the 20-year-old Canadian who started this week at 1000/1 - has holed his second shot at the for an eagle two and he's now -4 alongside Grace and Kuchar and just two behind Spieth. What an incredible start for the young man, he's -3 for the first two holes!

  • 16:02

    The leaders are all on the course now. Spieth and Kuchar have both found the fairway at the first and the drama is about to really get underway. Up at the first green Koepka failed to get away with a par after that poor tee shot and he slips back to -2. Alongside him Poulter also slips back to -2 after a very disappointing three putt at the first green. Bogeys today and you're really going backwards. It's birdies or nothing.

    Or eagles, if you're Austin Connelly. Alongside the Canadian, Ramsay has made up for the bogey at the first with a birdie at the second and is back to -2.

    -6: Spieth

    -4: Grace (F:62), Connelly (2), Kuchar

    -3: D Johnson (15)

    -2: Matsuyama (7), McIlroy (2), Ramsay (2), Koepka (1), Poulter (1), Stenson (13), Fisher (9), Henley (7)

  • 16:04

    Let's get to McIlroy at the third. After another perfect drive down the fairway at the long par four he was left with 210 yards to the green but he's turned it over long and left where it scuttles over the back of the green. The good thing is that he has plenty of green to work with for his pitch.

    Meanwhile, 62 watch is very much on for Johnson after a gorgeous approach at the 16th left him with eight feet for a birdie to go to -7 for the day.

  • 16:06

    McIlroy successfully gets up and down at the third for his par, with a little help from the lip as his putt grabbed the edge, spun the whole way around and dropped. He remains -2 and four behind.


    Alongside him now at -2 is the defending champion. Stenson is not going to let this claret jug go easily and he's just rattled another birdie in at the 14th to go to -4 for the day.


    Over at the first it's pars apiece for Spieth and Kuchar after a great up and down for Spieth, while Kuchar watched his birdie putt just slip past the edge.

  • 16:09

    Johnson is going to need to finish birdie, birdie if we're to see a second 62. That's after his birdie putt at the 16th came up short and he remains -6 for the day.

    Meanwhile, McIlroy has had a shocker at the par three fourth. With his tee shot he hit a solid three inches or so behind the ball, leaving it way short from where he'll face a tough up and down to save par.

    At the second Kuchar and Spieth have both pushed their tee shots right. Kuchar's looks to be fine in the first cut while Spieth's clatters into the fairway.

  • 16:13

    Rory McIlroy!

    After that disastrous tee shot at the third he's gone ahead and pitched in for a birdie two! That gets him to -3 and into the top five for the first time this week. He's now just three behind after his 10th birdie in his last 30 holes.

    Back at the third Connelly has given one of those shots back with a bogey and he's now back to -3.

    -6: Spieth (1)

    -4: Grace (F:62), Kuchar (1)

    -3: McIlroy (4), Johnson (16), Connelly (3)

    -2: Stenson (14), Matsuyama (8), Ramsay (3), Koepka (2), Poulter (2)

    -1: Fisher (10)

  • 16:17

    RORY, RORY, RORY!

    At the short par four fifth he's nailed a three wood right down the barrel where it lands on the green softly and rolls out to eight feet. That's for an eagle two and to get within one of Spieth!

    The most talented player of a generation is very, very much back at it.

  • 16:21

    Kuchar cuts the gap at the top to one shot!

    He's rolled in a birdie putt at the second to get to -5 and one behind Spieth who could only manage a par.

    Meanwhile, Dustin Johnson's 62 chances are all but gone after he failed to birdie the par five 17th, leaving him -6 for the day.

  • 16:22
    Alongside Johnson at -3 for the tournament is Ramsay. That's after the Scot rolled in a putt for a birdie two at the fourth.
  • 16:24

    Up to the fifth and McIlroy's eagle putt. It breaks left to right and is bang on line but it stops a few inches short right in the jaws! He'll be very disappointed with that. However, that's his third birdie in five holes and he's now just two behind Spieth at -4.

    One back of that is Koepka after he rattled in a huge birdie putt at the third to get the dropped shot at the first back. Poulter fails to match him and remains at -2.

  • 16:28

    Spieth is getting in on the act now. His approach to the third pitches a few feet short of the pin and almost bounces straight in! It stops a few inches from the hole and that's a tap in birdie which moves him to -7.

    Alongside him, Kuchar's approach flies straight over the pin and spins back to eight feet but it's been completely overshadowed by the majesty of Spieth's approach.

  • 16:35

    Kuchar immediately cuts Spieth's lead back to one!

    The top-10 specialist rolls his birdie putt right into the middle of the cup and jumps to -6.

    Up at the fourth Koepka has made it two birdies in a row to get to -4 and within three.  

    Of the top 39 players, Poulter is the only one over par. He's +1 for the day and back to -2 for the tournament after that bogey back at the first.

    And, up at the 18th, Johnson navigates his long birdie in two for a par to sign for a 64 and -3.

    -7 Spieth (3)

    -6: Kuchar (3)

    -4: Grace (F:62), McIlroy (5), Koepka (4)

    -3: D Johnson (F:64), Stenson (16), Connelly (5), Ramsay (5)

    -2: Matsuyama (10), Poulter (4)

    -1: Fisher (12), Kim (10), B Watson (7)

  • 16:41

    Kuchar drops back to -5 with a bogey at the third.

    After missing the green with his approach his putt up the green was completely misjudged and left him with too much to do for par.

    That means that Spieth now holds a two shot lead after he safely tapped in for par there at the fourth.

    And, up at the sixth McIlroy's 20 foot birdie effort comes up a foot short. However, that's a solid par for him at the hardest hole on the course and he remains -4.

  • 16:44

    Poulter has endured a tough start with a bogey at the first which saw him slip way back, given the birdies that were being made everywhere else. However, he's got it back at the fifth with a three wood to the centre of the green and two putts for his three.

    Alongside him Koepka has done the same and is now up to tied second with Kuchar, two behind Spieth at -5.

  • 16:48

    McIlroy bogeys the seventh to slip back to -3.

    That's a very disappointing bogey and it was all caused by a poor tee shot. Turning to the left his ball nestled in the long rough. From there a duffed pitch and two putts later resulted in a four and he's now four behind.

    And he could soon be five behind. After opting not to go for the green at the short par four fifth Spieth's wedged approach flew straight over the pin and spun back to 10 feet.  

    Alongside him, Kuchar took the green on and did so perfectly, his ball scuttling up to 12 feet or so. That's for an eagle two to tie Spieth!

  • 16:54

    Kuchar's eagle putt moves left, catches the lip and somehow spins out! That leaves him to settle for a birdie three. However, that means he's just one behind Spieth after he failed to make a birdie of his own.

    -7 Spieth (5)

    -6: Kuchar (5)

    -5: Koepka (5)

    -4: Grace (F:62)

    -3: D Johnson (F:64), McIlroy (7), Stenson (17), Connelly (6), Poulter (5)

    -2: Matsuyama (10), Chan (11), Ramsay (6)

    -1: Fisher (13), Lovemark (7)

  • 16:59

    Stenson failed to make his birdie at the par five 17th and remains at -3. A par up the last for him and it's a great round of 65 in what's been a very impressive defence of his title.

    Meanwhile, it's pars apiece for Koepka and Poulter at the long sixth - a hole everyone would happily take four pars on for the week, it must be said.

  • 17:05

    It's another par for Spieth at the sixth after a superb approach wasn't matched with the putt from 10 feet. He remains -7 and leads by one after Kuchar also made par.

    Let's get over to the eighth and McIlroy. After a poor approach came up well short he's pitched up to eight feet or so. That's for par and is a very, very big putt.

  • 17:09

    But McIlroy can't make it. His par putt slips past and it's a second bogey in a row, dropping him back to -8. That's pretty poor from McIlroy there and could be a real momentum killer - he's now five behind Spieth after getting to within one just three holes ago.

    Back at the seventh it's a similar story for Koepka who failed to get up and down from the bunker and has to settle for a bogey five to drop back into a tie for third at -4.

    Finally, Stenson has parred the last to cap off that 65 and leave him at -3 going into Sunday.

    -7 Spieth (6)

    -6: Kuchar (6)

    -4: Grace (F:62), Koepka (7)

    -3: D Johnson (F:64), Stenson (F:65), Connelly (7), Poulter (7)

    -2: Matsuyama (12), Chan (12), Ramsay (7), McIlroy (8), Fisher (15), Lovemark (9)

    -1: Fowler (15)

  • 17:11

    At the par three seventh Spieth has striped yet another gorgeous iron shot straight down the pin, leaving 12 feet for birdie. His iron play this week has been absolutely superb.

    Kuchar's effort came up just short of Spieth's and leaves a tough putt up the ridge to the hole.

    Meanwhile, over at the 15th, Fisher has successfully two putted a long eagle attempt to get to -4 for the day and jump into the pack at -2. Alongside him now is Connelly who has dropped another shot at the eighth.

  • 17:13

    Spieth takes a two shot lead at -8!

    His birdie putt at the seventh is never anywhere but the centre of the cup and he goes -2 for the day and two ahead of Kuchar.

    Back at the ninth McIlroy needs to get on the birdie train again and he might just do so. After an excellent drive he was left with 162 yards from where he's launched a gorgeous high draw in to 10 feet.

    -8: Spieth (7)

    -6: Kuchar (7)

    -4: Grace (F:62), Koepka (7)

    -3: D Johnson (F:64), Stenson (F:65), Poulter (7)

    -2: Matsuyama (12), Chan (12), Ramsay (7), McIlroy (8), Fisher (15), Lovemark (9), Connelly (8)

    -1: Fowler (15)

  • 17:18

    Yes Rory!

    He answers back to those consecutive bogeys with a birdie at the ninth, courtesy largely of that superb approach. He's now back to -3 and five behind Spieth.

    Speaking of Spieth, he and Kuchar have both knocked perfect drives down the eighth fairway and will have good looks at the green.

  • 17:23

    Up at the eighth green Poulter has dropped another shot, giving that birdie at the fifth back. He's now back to -2 and very much out on his own in terms of being over par. Out of the top 15 only he and Richie Ramsay aren't under par for the day and Ramsay is level par. It's been a struggle so far for Poulter.  

    But not so for his playing partner Koepka. He rolled his birdie putt at the eighth right into the middle and is now back up to -5 and three behind.

    However, Spieth's lead could soon be cut to one shot. That's because of a beautiful approach from Kuchar at the eighth to leave no more than eight feet for birdie.

    But Spieth's iron play is just superb these days and he's set himself up with a very makeable putt to get to -9. He's a little further away than Kuchar but, crucially, on the same level of the green that the pin is on, leaving a fairly flat putt.

    Over at the 16th Fisher's great round is continuing apace with another birdie. He's now -5 for the day and -3 for the tournament.

    Finally, back at the 10th, McIlroy could be in trouble. His tee shot bounded through the fairway and into a pot bunker. It'll have to be a wedge out of there.

  • 17:28

    Spieth moves to -9!

    The American just does not miss from 10 feet. His putt at the ninth goes straight into the middle with the minimum of fuss.  

    However, Kuchar is staying in touch. His putt drops over the lip with its last breath and moves him up to -7 and still within two of Spieth.

    However, there's trouble for McIlroy at the 10th. After finding the bunker with his drive, his wedge out only barelt made it past the second bunker but left him standing in the sand. From there it was always going to hook left and it did, settling in the long rough. He needs to get up and down from there just to drop one shot. Not good.

  • 17:31

    Big, big putt for McIlroy at the 10th after his pitch left him with 10 feet for bogey...

    And he misses. That's a double bogey and he's now back to -1 and eight behind. He's not out of it just yet but he needs something special over the last eight holes.

    Back at the ninth Koepka and Poulter have both made pars for front nines of 32 and 34 respectively, leaving them at -5 and -3.

  • 17:36

    At the ninth Kuchar and Spieth both hit good drives but have left themselves with work to do up at the green.

    Kuchar's effort was a little heavy and came up 20 yards short after catching the false front and rolling back.  

    Spieth, meanwhile caught a huge flyer from the rough and watched as his ball carried over the green and finished down in a dip.

  • 17:41

    Two very, very tidy up and downs for Kuchar and Spieth at the ninth save their pars. That was pure class from the pair there and the lead remains two. It's front nines of 31 for both men, -3.

    -9: Spieth (9)

    -7: Kuchar (9)

    -5: Koepka (9)

    -4: Grace (F:62)

    -3: D Johnson (F:64), Stenson (F:65), Poulter (9), Fisher (16), Matsuyama (14), Connelly (10)

    -1: Fowler (F:67), Chan (15), Noren (14), B Watson (13), Cabrera-Bello (13), McIlroy (10), Ramsay (10)

  • 17:45

    Up at the 10th Poulter has made it back-to-back birdies and is still very much in this. That birdie gets him to -4 for the tournament and five behind Spieth. Alongside him it's just a par for Koepka and he remains -5.

    And, ahead at the 11th, McIlroy's drive flew right and found the heavy rough. From there he could only get it to the front of the green but did well to get down in two and save his par. However, he really needs to get a move on and pick up shots now and there's no reason he shouldn't with two par fives to come at 15and 17.

  • 17:55

    Okay, McIlroy needs a fast finish and he's given himself the best chance of doing so at the par three 12th. He's launched a tee shot into the heart of the green, pin high and 15 feet away.

    Back at the 10th Kuchar's approach from the heavy rough came up short, leaving him with a tricky up and down. However, he's done it very well by chipping it up to a few feet and tapping in for par.

    Spieth's effort landed pin high but spun all the way back and off the green. However, he's also managed to get up and down for his four and maintains a two shot lead.

    -9: Spieth (10)

    -7: Kuchar (10)

    -5: Koepka (10)

    -4: Grace (F:62), Poulter (10)

    -3: D Johnson (F:64), Stenson (F:65), Fisher (17), Matsuyama (15), Connelly (11)

    -2: Kim (16)

    -1: Fowler (F:67), Noren (15), B Watson (14), Cabrera-Bello (14), McIlroy (12), Ramsay (11)

     

  • 17:56

    As you can see there, there was no joy for McIlroy at the 12th as his birdie putt slipped past and he settles for par to remain eight behind.

    Up at the 11th Poulter is facing some trouble after a very wayward drive. He hacked out and has wedged it onto the green but faces 30 feet or so to save par.

  • 18:01

    Poulter's long par putt comes up short and that's a dropped shot for him to slip back to -3. Alongside him Koepka failed to take advantage of a superb second shot to 12 feet and he remains at -5.

    At the 507 yard par four 13th McIlroy has absolutely launched the most beautiful drive you have ever seen at least 370 yards down the fairway, leaving no more than a wedge in there. He needs birdies and fast.

  • 18:04

    From 146 yards at the 13th McIlroy knocks his approach into pin high, leaving 15 feet for birdie.

    However, there may be some bad news on the way. There are some seriously dark clouds rumbling their way towards the Birkdale links at the moment and we're hearing there may be lightning along with it. Let's hope not but I'll keep you updated.

  • 18:08

    Spieth's good look at birdie on the 11th slips left and leaves him to settle for par. Likewise for Kuchar after he also two-putted.

    -9: Spieth (11)

    -7: Kuchar (11)

    -5: Koepka (12)

    -4: Grace (F:62)

    -3: D Johnson (F:64), Stenson (F:65), Matsuyama (16), Connelly (12), Kim (17), Poulter (11)

    -2: Fisher (F:66), B Watson (15)

    -1: Fowler (F:67), Noren (15), Cabrera-Bello (15), McIlroy (13)

  • 18:09

    As you can see there, McIlroy's birdie putt at the 13th slipped left on the slope and missed. He's beginning to run out of holes now and remains a long way back of Spieth.

    Remember, if you're wondering about the fortunes of any particular player just get in touch using the 'Contact us' button at the top of the blog and I'll fill you in.

  • 18:13

    It's back to back bogeys for Poulter at the 12th and he slips back to -2. That's particularly disappointing after he made back to back birdies on the previous two holes.

    Speaking of birdies, McIlroy desperately needs some and he's given himself another good chance at the par three 14th by spearing a lovely iron shot in to 10 feet. That absolutely must drop because, with two par fives still to come, he's right in this.

    Back at the par three 12th Spieth has once again left himself pin high after a great approach. Kuchar's comes up well short and leaves 50 feet or so for his two.

  • 18:20

    McIlroy misses yet another birdie chance at the 14th - that's three good chances missed in three holes and there's just no momentum there after that tricky spell around the turn.

    But Spieth has also missed his chance at the 12th, meaning the gap stays at two to Kuchar. That's after Kuch lagged a superb 50 foot putt up to holeside and tapped in.

    -9: Spieth (12)

    -7: Kuchar (12)

    -5: Koepka (12)

    -4: Grace (F:62), Matsuyama (17)

    -3: D Johnson (F:64), Stenson (F:65), Connelly (13), Kim (F:67)

    -2: Fisher (F:66), B Watson (15), Poulter (12)

    -1: Fowler (F:67), Noren (16), Cabrera-Bello (15), McIlroy (14)

  • 18:22

    As you can see there, Matsuyama picked up another birdie at the 17th with a huge putt for four after a duffed pitch. However, there are no pictures on the scorecard so a birdie is a birdie.

    At the par five 15th McIlroy launched a good drive down the fairway and will be well within range in two. An eagle and he's right back in this.

  • 18:27

    It's a bogey for Koepka at the 13th after a wayward drive into the hay left him with too much work to do. And, unfortunately, it's another bogey for Poulter. He's now +3 for the day and all the way back alongside McIlroy at -1.

    Back at the 12th, Kuchar and Spieth both found the right rough and have both caught flyers from the rough. Spieth is in fine shape just on the back fringe while Kuchar is a bit further on.

  • 18:31

    What a shot from McIlroy!

    At the par five 15th he's launched an iron towards the green where it bounces down the slopes and rollsout to six feet! That's for eagle to get to -3 and get him right back in contention.

  • 18:34

    A reader has got in contact to tell me that it's fantasism to think McIlroy is back in contention if he gets to -3. Only six shots behind and tied 6th isn't in contention? Okay so.

    And he will be six back if he sinks it as Spieth and Kuchar both get up and down again for pars to remain at -9 and -7 respectively.

  • 18:36

    No eagle for McIlroy.

    He goes firm and at the right lip but it stays straight and misses. However, it's a much needed birdie and he gets back to -2. Is that in contention? I couldn't possibly say, someone please clarify.

    -9: Spieth (13)

    -7: Kuchar (13)

    -4: Grace (F:62), Matsuyama (F:66), Koepka (13)

    -3: D Johnson (F:64), Stenson (F:65), Connelly (14), Kim (F:67)

    -2: Fisher (F:66), McIlroy (15)

    -1: Fowler (F:67), Noren (17), Cabrera-Bello (16), Lovemark (15), Poulter (14)

  • 18:44

    McIlroy has nailed another long drive down the 16th and has a good look at the green to give himself a chance of another birdie. It's been a highly frustrating day for him with missed chances galore, particularly on the back nine.

    But Spieth's lead has been cut to one!

    A fine tee shot from Kuchar into the heart of the 14th green leaves him with 20 feet for birdie and he pours it right into the middle! He's now -4 for the day and -8 for the tournament, one behind Spieth.

    That's after the Texan successfully navigated a long birdie putt in two to ensure his par.

  • 18:50

    McIlroy's approach to the 16th was pin high but at least 40 feet away. From there all he can do is lag it up to a foot and take his par to remain -2.

    Meanwhile, at the par five 15th, Koepka crushed two excellent shots to the middle of the green and left his eagle putt an inch short! Somehow it manages to stay out and he has to settle for a birdie. However, that's him back to -5 and four behind.

    -9: Spieth (14)

    -8: Kuchar (14)

    -5: Koepka (15)

    -4: Grace (F:62), Matsuyama (F:66)

    -3: D Johnson (F:64), Stenson (F:65), Connelly (15), Kim (F:67)

    -2: Fisher (F:66), McIlroy (16), Cabrera-Bello (17), Poulter (15)

    -1: Fowler (F:67), Noren (F:69)

  • 18:59

    We could have a changing of the guard here at the par five 15th. Both Kuchar and Spieth hit the green in two, leaving long eagle putts. Kuchar lagged his up perfectly for a tap in birdie and is now up to -9, alongside Spieth.

    Spieth has eight feet or so for his birdie after a poor long putt raced past the hole. He needs to make it to maintain the lead on his own...

  • 19:00

    And of course he does. He never misses from inside 10 feet if we're being honest here. That gets him up to -10 and still one ahead of Kuchar and now eight ahead of McIlroy.

    Speaking of McIlroy, he's pushed his drive right at the par five 17th where it's settled into the long rough. That will probably mean he won't be able to go for the green in two, depending on the lie.

  • 19:03

    As the rain begins to absolutely pelt down at Birkdale, McIlroy muscles his second shot out of the long rough at the 17th, leaving 100 yards or so for his third.

    It's absolutely lashing it down now! Let's hope it doesn't get too heavy, they had to stop play for 10 minutes or so yesterday it got so heavy.

  • 19:08

    McIlroy's pitch at the 17th comes out heavy after a poor strike but he gets away with it somehwat as the ball releases out to 10 feet. If he's to have any chance you have to feel he needs to sink that and follow it with another birdie at the 18th.

    Over at the 16th Koepka's birdie putt slid past the left edge and he remains at -5.  

    And, at the 16th, Kuchar and Spieth have both pulled their drives into the left rough as the rain makes it really tricky now. Both look to be a long way back but in decent shape as the rough is sparse enough over there.

  • 19:11

    McIlroy's birdie putt slips past the right edge and he looks to be defeated at this stage. It's a pity because he had such good momentum after five holes but the back to back bogeys at seven and eight really seemed to get to him.

    From the left rough on the 16th Spieth fires an approach into the middle of the green, leaving 20 feet for birdie.

    Kuchar, who found the bunker with his drive, had to just splash out and leave a long approach to the green for his third. All he can do is find the right side and now faced 35 feet or so for par. If he misses and Spieth makes we'll suddenly have a three shot defecit.

  • 19:19

    Spieth's birdie putt at the 16th looks in all the way but just slips past the left edge at the very end.

    However, he has a three shot lead now after Kuchar left his long par putt short and missed the second effort from 10 feet or so. That's a double after consecutive bogeys had got him to within one.

    Up at the 17th green Connelly has picked up a shot with a great birdie to get to -4. This is some showing from the very inexperienced 20-year-old.

    -10: Spieth (16)

    -7: Kuchar (16)

    -5: Koepka (16)

    -4: Grace (F:62), Matsuyama (F:66), Connelly (17)

    -3: D Johnson (F:64), Stenson (F:65), Kim (F:67), Cabrera-Bello (F:67)

    -2: Fisher (F:66), McIlroy (17), Poulter (16)

    -1: Fowler (F:67), Noren (F:69), Bland (F:70), Ramsay (17)

  • 19:21
    Boo Gosling Still, from contention to defeat in just a few paragraphs is bizarre. That’s why one should never take sports seriously (unless one is a sports writer and seeks dissociative experiences and cognitive dissonance). Play it as farce all the way.
  • 19:22

    Between those few paragraphs there were a few holes. In which McIlroy failed to make a birdie and Spieth made two. As well as that the comment was that he would be in contention with an eagle at the 15th. He didn't make one so therefore didn't get into contention. So of course that makes sense.


    Anyway, McIlroy's second to the 18th flew a tad too long and left him with 25 feet for birdie which missed left. From there he tapped in for par, a round of 69 and a total of -2. Oh, what might have been for Rory.

  • 19:25

    Over at the 17th Koepka found the green in two and successfully two-putted for a birdie four. That means he's now up to -6 and four behind and still very much in contention...

    He could be even more in contention in a matter of minutes after Spieth's second at the 17th found the greenside bunker. And, to add to that, it looks to have settled barely over the front lip, making his stance very difficult. Kuchar is in the same bunker in two but seems to be lying a lot better.

  • 19:30

    What a performance this has been from 20-year-old Canadian Austin Connelly. He plays most of his stuff on the Challenge Tour in Europe - the same route Brooks Koepka took in his early playing days - and qualified for the Open via a five-man playoff.

    He's certainly made the most of his spot anyway. From the middle of the fairway at the 18th he fired an approach in to 20 feet, walked up and rolled the birdie putt in with as little stress as if he was just knocking it around with his mates on a Saturday morning. That's a stunning 66 for the Canadian, including an eagle two, and may just see him into the second last group tomorrow. He's -5 and five behind Spieth.

  • 19:32

    No birdie for Spieth at the 17th.

    From that tricky lie in the bunker he could only splash it out to 12 feet or so and his putt missed left. That leaves him with a par but now only a two shot lead after Kuchar successfully got up and down from the sand for his birdie.

    -10: Spieth (17)

    -8: Kuchar (17)

    -6: Koepka (17)

    -5: Connelly (F:66)

    -4: Grace (F:62), Matsuyama (F:66)

    -3: D Johnson (F:64), Stenson (F:65), Kim (F:67), Cabrera-Bello (F:67)

    -2: Fisher (F:66), McIlroy (F:69), Poulter (17), Ramsay (F:70)

    -1: Fowler (F:67), Noren (F:69), Bland (F:70)

  • 19:33
  • 19:40

    It was a tough day for Poulter today and he's pretty much out of the running now after finishing with a 71. However, he did hole a great long putt for par at the 18th and will go into the final day at -2.

    Alongside him it was a disappointing bogey to finish for Koepka and he slips back to -5, alongside Connelly thanks to a round of 68. There's a decent bit of daylight now between the top two players and the chasing pack.

  • 19:42
    Kuchar has shown serious mental strength to get back into this after the double bogey at the 15th. His birdie at the 17th pulled him back to within two and he's just flown a peach of an approach into eight feet at the 18th. Spieth is about twice the distance and coming from the right fringe. His lead could be just one shot by the end of this hole having had chances at 16 and 17 to possibly build up a five shot gap. How quickly things can change.
  • 19:46

    Why did we ever doubt him? Spieth has no interest in just finishing with a par and instead rattles his birdie putt right into the centre of the cup.

    That puts the pressure on Kuchar and he misses! From a possible one shot lead it's now, all of a sudden, three.

    That birdie for Spieth caps a bogey free round of 65 for a total of -11. Just superb play.

    For Kuchar it's a 66 and he will join Spieth again in the final group tomorrow looking to cut a three shot deficit.

  • 19:48

    FINAL THIRD ROUND SCORES

    -11: Spieth (F:65)

    -8: Kuchar (F:66)

    -5: Connelly (F:66), Koepka (F:68)

    -4: Grace (F:62), Matsuyama (F:66)

    -3: D Johnson (F:64), Stenson (F:65), Kim (F:67), Cabrera-Bello (F:67)

    -2: Fisher (F:66), McIlroy (F:69), Poulter (F:71), Ramsay (F:70)

    -1: Fowler (F:67), Noren (F:69), Bland (F:70)

  • 19:52

    So, what a Saturday we've had at Birkdale. From Branden Grace rewriting the history books with a 62 to Rory McIlroy's lightning quick start to the sensation that is Austin Connelly to Jordan Spieth's clutch finish to take a three shot lead into the final round, we've had it all.

    Let's just hope tomorrow is as good. It's hard to see Spieth losing it from the position he's in but you just never know in this game. Dare I say remember Augusta in 2016...

    With that I shall leave you. Philip Reid's report from Birkdale will be online shortly for you to read at your leisure and I will be back with you from about 1.30 tomorrow for the final day at the Open.

    Thanks for reading, bye!