SOUTHPORT, England (AP) – The Latest from the British Open (all times local):
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.
Players are going low – real low – at Royal Birkdale, and the leaders haven’t even teed off yet.
With the first 20 players in – about a quarter of the weekend field – there were three 65s and three 66s posted. Only three players were over par for the day, and the worst of those was a 73 by Danny Willett.
Branden Grace was the lowest of all, making a run at the major championship record of 63. Grace shot 29 on the front side and was 6 under after lipping out a birdie putt on the par-5 15th hole.
Dustin Johnson was also having a good round, shooting 30 on the front side with four birdies and no bogeys.
Jordan Spieth, the leader midway through the Open, is scheduled to tee off at 3:55 p.m.
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.
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