Jordan Spieth emerges as player to beat in British Open

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Jordan Spieth emerges as player to beat in British Open

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Jordan Spieth emerges as player to beat in British Open

SOUTHPORT, England – Jordan Spieth didn’t let foul conditions affect him in the second round of the 146th Open Championship.

He revelled in them. But he then learned from last year’s Royal Troon trouncing.

Spieth sits atop the leaderboard on six under par after a one-under-par 69 to get to 134 for two day’s work. His total matches Craig Stadler’s 36-hole record at Royal Birkdale set in 1983. Spieth has a two-shot lead over Matt Kuchar, with Ian Poulter and Brooks Koepka on three under.

Two-time major winner Spieth was among the afternoon starters who got the worst of the weather, heavy rain mixed with strong winds. The afternoon crew were expected to come back to the field, yet Spieth reached seven under par at one point when he eagled the par-5 15th hole. A dropped shot at the 16th hole followed by consecutive pars got him into the clubhouse in better than expected shape.

“I thought even par was an eight under round when I was sitting on the couch this morning, and it ended up being where you could get around today,” Spieth said.

The 23-year-old got the worst of the weather at Royal Troon in last year’s second round. He returned a 75 in horrific conditions that put paid to his chances of adding the old claret to his 2015 Masters and U.S. Open wins. His Troon experience helped him at Royal Birkdale.

“I thought that was very important last year going through it,” he admitted.” I thought that today with Michael. I actually talked to him a bit about it during the round.

“Not on the good end of the draw (this year) but we seem to have grinded it out. I don’t know if we’d have a better score if I was on the other side of the draw. You just don’t know where your breaks fall and where they don’t.”

Aside from the eagle, Spieth got a break at the 10th hole when he chipped in for par from off the green. He called the par save “massive. It was because it stopped him sliding to three under after a bogey at the ninth.

British odds makers have made Spieth the 6/5 favourite to win the old claret jug. Kuchar is a 6-1 shot alongside Rory McIlory, who is five shots behind.

“Kooch is tough because he’s so consistent,” Spieth said. “He knows how to play his game. He knows his strengths. He knows his weaknesses, and he knows how to play away from them.”

Kuchar finished joint fourth in last week’s Scottish Open to prepare for Royal Birkdale. He isn’t worried about expected inclement weather over the weekend.

“You kind of know over here when circumstances are really, really challenging and difficult, you get unlucky sometimes,” Kuchar said.

“There are a lot of unlucky bounces that happen here. But it’s part of golf. I think it’s more of an understood thing when you come over to the UK and play links golf.”

Five of the previous 10 Open champions at Royal Birkdale have pledged allegiance to the Stars and Stripes. Poulter will be doing his best to makes sure Spieth doesn’t make it six of 11. The 41-year-old is trying to become the first English winner since Nick Faldo in 1992, and go one place better than his 2008 finish when he was runner-up to Padraig Harrington.

Spieth is the man to beat. He’s already paid his dues in the Open Championship.

 

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