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It is typical, though, of the level-headed and thoughtful Spieth that he considers that disastrous Sunday a memory that doesn't need to be blocked out.

Day just made the weekend smack on the cut, as did Marc Leishman, Aaron Baddeley, and Scott Hend. He knows me pretty well.

"That's expected with Jordan", said Kuchar. He'd have been a shot closer to the lead but for a closing bogey but is still in the hunt, as is Connelly after the 20-year-old, who, like Spieth, lives in Dallas, continued to enjoy a dream debut.

Three-time Major champ Spieth drained a 20ft birdie putt on the last to sit on 11 under as Rory McIlroy also melted at Birkdale.

And on a day that started with so much promise for Rory McIlroy where he moved to within two shots of the lead, his hopes of challenging on the final day now appear to be over having fallen nine shots off Spieth by the end of play.

A bogey followed at 16 when missing from short range, but two solid pars at 17 and 18 ensured Spieth finished 36 holes with a two-stroke lead over his compatriot Matt Kuchar, who posted a 1-over 71 to lie 4-under for the tournament.

Jul 22, 2017; Southport, ENG; Jordan Spieth (left) and Matt Kuchar on the fourth green during the third round of The 146th Open Championship golf tournament at Royal Birkdale Golf Club.

The 2014 champion and four-time major victor surged to within three shots of the lead with a front nine three-under 31, having slipped 10 behind through six holes of his first round. The chasing pack, of course, will take heart from the fact that Spieth blew a five-shot lead in the final round of last year's Masters, but the player himself believes he can use that disappointment to ensure this golden chance doesn't slip through his grasp as well. Instead, he got stuck in the mud a bit while watching Spieth run away. If I get help, great, if I don't, I don't. "And even though I had missed quite a few putts from that range, and I had a lot of them today, that one just felt good looking at it".

Spieth drew on his experience of even WORSE conditions at Royal Troon a year ago.

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U.S. golfer Matt Kuchar misses a putt on the 16th green during his third round of the Open Golf Championship. They matched each other nearly shot for shot until the latter finally cracked with a double bogey at the 16th hole. After bouncing back with a birdie at the ninth, there was a crippling double-bogey at the 10th.

US Open champion Koepka dropped a stroke on the notoriously hard sixth hole to go back to four under par, where he remained at the turn. It can be as valuable a weapon as the driver you hit the fairway with nearly every time.

"We've got spots to play out here that we can hit greens from". He has just four bogeys this week, and all of them came in Friday's downpours. Spieth looked up from his ball, curious about the cause of the cheers.

Johnson looked like he might have a chance to match Grace's 62, which set a record for low score in a major championship.

"There is low scores out there, and people are not making mistakes, " he said.

"You can play the yardages - the last two days, you couldn't play the yardages, you had to play by feel".

The weather is the biggest defense of the links courses that host The Open Championship, but Royal Birkdale was defenseless on Saturday.

Johnson and Stenson both fell short towards the end, perhaps awed by knowledge as well as the fiendish degree of difficulty even in benign conditions of nearly no breeze and soft fairways and greens.


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