LONDON: A nervous Jordan Spieth dropped three shots on the front nine and was tied for the lead with Matt Kuchar at the halfway point on the final day of the Open at Royal Birkdale on Sunday.
The 23-year-old, who began the day on 11-under, three shots clear of fellow American Kuchar, fell back into a share of the lead with hisfellow American on 8-under-par, two ahead of China’s Li Hautong.
As the wind began to pick up, Spieth looked tight from the start.
Bogeys at three of the first four holes meant his lead was gone when he and Kuchar stood on the fifth tee tied on 8-under-par.
A birdie at the fifth righted the ship for Spieth, the 2015 Masters and US Open champion, who is chasing his first Open crown.
Kuchar missed a number of good chances to close the gap but finally made a birdie at the ninth to get back to within one and Spieth then missed from close range to lose the lead again.
Li meanwhile set a good target in the clubhouse with a brilliant 63to be 6-under-par for the tournament.
On his Open debut, the 21-year-old birdied the last four holes to complete what he described as “the best round in my life so far.
“It feels incredible,” Li told Sky Sports. “From the eighth hole I holed a lot of putts and had some tough up and downs out there.”
“I was quite nervous on that four-foot putt (at the 18th) but after Imade the putt, I thought, oh, amazing day.”
Englishman Matthew Southgate, who overcame testicular cancer in 2015, finished on 4-under-par after a 65.
Matthew Leishman of Australia also carded a 65 to be 4-under-par,while Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy and Alex Noren of Sweden were also 4-under with six and five holes to play respectively.
Local boy Tommy Fleetwood finished the tournament on 1-over-par while Alfie Plant won the silver medal for leading amateur after finishing on 6-over-par with a closing 73. — dpa