Out in front and hard to run down

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THE FINAL round of the 2017 British Open starts tonight at Royal Birkdale. STEVE PERKIN looks at those with a chance of taking the title:

JORDAN SPIETH

Four times over his short career, 23-year-old Jordan Spieth has gone into the final round of an event as the leader and every time he has won, so he’s a proven front-runner. He goes into tonight’s final round of the British Open three shots clear. What chance he won’t win? Spieth fired a third round 65 in perfect weather. It was his third round in the 60s.

“Knowing it was a favourable day for scoring made it pretty tough mentally. You want to play safe when you’re leading, but I had to be aggressive.”

Spieth is 121st on the US Tour for driving accuracy. That’s his Achilles heel.

MATT KUCHER

Kucher drew level with Spieth at the 15th but double bogeyed 16 after driving into a pot bunker. Spieth’s birdie on 15 left Kucher three behind. Kucher has an Olympic bronze medal but no Major titles, partly because he hasn’t performed well under extreme pressure. His best chance is if the winds get up because he hits it straight

BRANDON GRACE

The South African is charging. Grace became the first player in history to shoot 62 in a Major and is now at four under par going into the final round. He’s still seven shots behind Jordan Spieth, but if the wind blows, who knows.

BROOKS KOEPKA

Has a US Open title in his possession so he knows he can get it done. But even if he plays the round of his life, at six shots behind, he’s got to rely on Spieth blowing up.

AUSTIN CONNELLY

The 20-year-old American is playing in his first Major and even if he shoots in the 80s, it has been an impressive debut. He won’t win, but he’d love a top five finish.

HIDEKI MATSUYAMA

He’s at four under par and will be hoping to finish at nine or perhaps 10. But will that be enough? Doubtful, but Spieth has blown up in recent Majors so who knows.

Of the others

DUSTIN JOHNSON is warming up. He shot a third-round 64 and he’ll be there again, although a windy afternoon may not be to his liking,

RAFAEL CABRERA-BELLO is, like Dustin Johnson, eight shots behind and has been solid at this Open without doing anything amazing.  A top 10 finish would make him happy.

Of the Australians…

 

JASON DAY and SCOTT HEND both shot 65s but, on a day when the scoring average was 69 and 43 players shot under par, they didn’t make up much ground on the leaders. They’ll be aiming at a top 10 finish.

MARC LEISHMAN is tied 29th after a 66. Again, top 10 is about all he can hope for.

ADAM SCOTT had a 70 but it’s not his putter. He simply didn’t hit his approach shots close enough to the hole. He’s on 213, along with ANDREW DODT, who will be pleased with the way he’s performed at this Open and this year in general.

AARON BADDELEY’S 72 has him second last of those who made the cut, but at least he’s ahead of Masters winner Danny Willett, who’s a shot further back and coming last.

mm

Author: Steve Perkin

STEVE PERKIN had a long and distinguished career as a journalist, covering sport and general news and writing daily columns for The Age and the Herald Sun. He was also executive producer of The Footy Show on Channel 9 for three years.

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