Spieth surges ahead as McIlroy makes move at Open

Spieth surges ahead as McIlroy makes move at Open

The American world number three shot 69 to follow an opening 65 and finished on 6 under par, two strokes ahead of compatriot Matt Kuchar, as his bid for a third major title gathered momentum.

Perhaps thrown out of kilter by pre-round nerves, Spieth ate breakfast after brushing his teeth so chomped on a single piece of mint gum for his entire round, reluctant to dispose of it in case it halted his fine play. "And I'll be feeling it this weekend a bit", he said. Spieth is the sole leader at a major for the first time since the third round of the Masters previous year, when he was runner-up to Danny Willett. And the way the majors have gone the last few years, maybe this is his time.

"I think that's what people enjoy about the British Open is watching the hard wind, the rain, the guys just trying to survive out there", Kuchar said.

Dustin Johnson in action during a practice round at the 146th Open Championship in Southport.

Jordan Spieth eyes first Open title, 3 shots clear of Matt Kuchar
On Thursday McIlroy was five-over through his first six holes - on Friday he was three under par after the same stretch. The forecast calls for some sunny spells during the afternoon, with only a 20% chance of showers.

Paul Casey is just one off the lead with fellow English veteran Ian Poulter a stroke further back in a tie for sixth, while McIlroy's challenge looked to have derailed when he slumped to five over after six holes before he birdied three of the last four holes to salvage a 71. But it's like any Open Championship, you've just got to control your golf ball. "As long as I approach it positively and recognize that this is what you want to feel because you're in the position you want to be in, then the easier it is to hit solid shots and to create solid rounds". "There are scores that I've shot that were closer to par that were better given what I needed to do". McIlroy closed with three birdies over the last four holes to stay in the game.

"To be in after two days and be under par for this championship after the way I started, I'm ecstatic with that", McIlroy said.

Rose, along with local lad Tommy Fleetwood, now look the best bets for a first English victor since Nick Faldo in 1992.

Indeed, the last seven have all been claimed by first-time major winners, including Brooks Koepka at last month's US Open and Henrik Stenson in the Open at Troon 12 months ago.

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Spieth has overcome insane cross-winds, squalls and a 25-minute rain delay to seize the outright halfway lead at the British Open.

So much is made of Spieth's velvet touch around the greens and unerring precision on them, but yesterday it was his iron play that was the foundation of his play.

American Mark O'Meara, Open champion in 1998, is due to strike the first tee shot at 0635 local time (0535 GMT).

"Golf is in a place right now where you have so many players playing really well".

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Spieth had a bogey-free round, and it required great bunker shots even by his standards to keep it that way. "I'm definitely hitting it a lot better".

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