Jordan Spieth in tie for lead after first round

Posted July 23, 2017

He's one good Sunday away from wrapping his hands around the Claret Jug.

Jordan Spieth of the United States plays a shot on the 18th hole during the first round of the British Open Golf Championship, at Royal Birkdale, Southport, England Thursday, July 20, 2017. He holds a three-shot lead over fellow American Matt Kuchar.

Not only is Spieth three shots ahead of Kuchar, but he is six shots ahead of the two golfers tied for third place: Austin Connelly and U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka. Koepka is listed at two percent, followed by Connelly, Hideki Matsuyama, Branden Grace, Henrik Stenson and Dustin Johnson at one percent. He has, he says learnt from what was a "humbling experience".

"I honestly didn't know", he said. "If you keep it in play, it's nearly hard to make a bogey out there, you know?" It was the 12th time he has been atop the leaderboard at a major, including the fourth rounds of the Masters and US Open that he won in 2015.

He predicted a "day that will be emotionally draining and hard to stay very neutral in the head", but noted he has "conserved energy in two of the three rounds" here and that he knows "how draining it can be and how important it is to conserve it". I'm very excited about tomorrow. Achieving the feat would see him join Jack Nicklaus in winning three different majors before turning 24 and set up a crack at a career Grand Slam in next month's US PGA Championship at Quail Hollow.

Those are the kind of breaks that win major championships, especially in one where the weather is often a factor like the British Open. A notorious frontrunner, Spieth is vicious when leading on major Sundays, one notable exception being his unexpected meltdown at last year's Masters. "I'm enjoying myself and having a great time". And then I just completely - I took the wrong club on 10 off the tee, " he said.

"That's expected with Jordan, " Kuchar said of the Spieth birdie on 18. He's a amusing guy.

"I knew I was playing well, and I was just in the zone".

"[Sunday] will be a day that will be emotionally draining and hard to stay very neutral in the head, " Spieth said.

Spieth has given himself a fighting chance of going all the way this week, and he will take that at the halfway stage. Brandon Grace went out early and created Major Championship history shooting an -8 par 62.

"We had favorable conditions, but that often makes it tougher to hold the lead", he said. "You're in the history books", his caddie, Zack Rasego told him.

"As much as you want to challenge yourself, really it's just luck", said the South African. And I was like, "What are you talking about?"

"There is nothing like the amphitheatre of walking down the 18th fairway at The Open Championship".

Missing from the mix was Rory McIlroy, who looked to be a big threat when he began with three birdies in five holes, driving the green on the shortened par-4 fifth hole.

He's at four under par and will be hoping to finish at nine or perhaps 10.

That gave Spieth a three-shot lead over Matt Kuchar, who did his best to keep pace and shot 66. Later in the afternoon, the torrential downpours that had been forecast days ago arrived on schedule to make for a frustrating Friday that ended the involvement of many top stars in this tournament.

But Kuchar wasn't going anywhere, and he closed the gap to one by holing a 25-foot putt at the 14th.

That led one sympathetic journalist to suggest to him he must be proud that he fought back and showed true character.

After Kuchar made bogey on the next hole, Spieth had the same two-shot lead he started the day with.