The Open: Jordan Spieth awards himself a 'B' after welcome break

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The Open: Jordan Spieth awards himself a 'B' after welcome break

Jordan Spieth, Matt Kuchar and Brooks Koepka each shot 5-under 65 on Thursday to take the opening-round lead at the 2017 British Open at Royal Birkdale in Southport, England. He followed that up with bogeys on 6 and 7 but got those strokes back later in the round with a pair of birdies on the back nine. "I think you go down this entire list of players, I think every one thinks: 'If I put the week together, it could be me at the end of the week holding the trophy.' I know I've been around a while, but I also feel like I'm in about the prime of my golfing career. You just have to make the adjustments". In his case, the only blip came with a bogey at 16 but he promptly recovered with an eagle at the long 17th. Spieth hit just eight greens in regulation in the blustery conditions on Friday, compared to 15 on Thursday.

Biggest disappointment: On day ripe for low scores, Ian Poulter was one of only two players (Bubba Watson) in the top 39 on the leaderboard that shot over par. The shot would have been hard enough in ideal conditions.

The Ryder Cup specialist, who has never won a major, endured a frustrating 2016 due to injury problems and had to come through qualifying to earn his place in the tournament.

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He has seen the worst of the weather at Royal Birkdale and has made the most of it. On day two of this Open Championship he delved deep into his bag of tricks to conjure up a one under 69 to reach six under through 36 holes and create a two-stroke break over his nearest pursuer, countryman Matt Kuchar (71).

Koepka shot rounds of 67-70-68-67 at the U.S. Open and pulled away over the closing holes to win by four strokes over Hideki Matsuyama and Brian Harman.

Playing with Australian Jason Day, American Zach Johnson returned a brilliant 66 to soar to one over in his quest for a third major title after winning the 2015 Open at St Andrews and the 2007 Masters.

By that time he had made six bogeys and been overtaken by Rickie Fowler, who picked up a shot at the hard 6th and then holed a magnificent 60ft-plus putt for a birdie two from a swale besides the 7th, where his ball finished to a chorus of groans after his tee shot pitched at the edge of green and stayed there for a few seconds.

"It feels absolutely marvelous, it really does". "I thought you really needed to be in the red today". I won't be one of them.

Rory McIlroy had plunged to five-over after six before a pep talk from caddie JP Fitzgerald saw him rally for a 71, still six shots off the pace.

The subsequent birdie left him four under and within touching distance of Spieth, only for the inconsistencies that have dogged his game over the past year resurfacing once again. Spieth missed the opportunity to birdie himself, but was given a reprieve as he watched his opponent fall three shots back after a double bogey, allowing a slightest grin to creep across his young opponent's face.

So much for the need to knock off competitive rust and keep the game sharp. The odds are in my favour - seven first-time Major winners on the trot. From 60 feet behind the 18th green, he lagged it to 2 feet and tapped in for a 62.

T6. Austin Connelly (-1): The 20-year-old Canadian hung in there despite missing about half of the fairways and greens in regulation and was even 1-under on the day through 12 holes before bogeys at 13, 14 and 18. "A couple of putts slipped by the edge but it adds up to a decent score so I'm pretty happy". It's just about keeping it consistent.

"I set myself a target of being in a better position today than I was yesterday".

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