Published: Sun, July 23, 2017
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

British Open 2017: Brooks Koepka 'excited' to contend in another major

British Open 2017: Brooks Koepka 'excited' to contend in another major

Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka and Matt Kuchar set the pace as Rory McIlroy staged a superb recovery from a disastrous start to The 146th Open at Royal Birkdale.

Spieth, world number three and twice major champion, putted smoothly to pick up five birdies and did not drop a shot as fierce crosswinds buffeted the early starters at Royal Birkdale.

Wales' Stuart Manley, 38, finished two under on his major debut one ahead of defending champion Henrik Stenson.

Schwartzel was the clear victor of his threeball with McIlroy and world No 1 Dustin Johnson, the South African scrambling hard to get to the turn in level par before birdies at 10, 13, 17 and 18 hoisted him into contention. "To be in it after two days and be under par for this championship after the way I started, I'm ecstatic with that". I've got to just trust it and understand, keep working hard. Today the putter wasn't as hot, but that happens", Koepka said, "It's tough to make putts when you're not that close to the hole.

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"Anytime you're in the last group on a weekend in the major, and".

Spieth has overcome insane cross-winds, squalls and a 25-minute rain delay to seize the outright halfway lead at the British Open. There are only nine players under par in all, so the tournament is still fairly wide open.

Scot Richie Ramsay (70) is fifth at 2-under, while the resurgent Rory McIlroy (68) is "ecstatic" to be back in the red at 1-under and in a four-way share of sixth.

Just when he began to slide down the leaderboard, Spieth's signature scrambling swiftly turned his fortunes around.

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He will head into the weekend five adrift of Spieth, who birdied the first and then dropped his first shot of The Open at the third, and he erred again at the ninth before a chip-in for par at the 10th shortly before the temporary suspension inspired him to birdie the 11th and 12th. He instead hit iron off the tee and made par.

Suddenly he enjoyed a two-shot lead. "That eagle putt was big because our goal was to try and shoot 2 under".

With winds of nearly 50 kilometres per hour gusting through the course, Kuchar earlier mixed four bogeys with three birdies and hoped to kick back in his hotel and watch the afternoon carnage unfold. "It was the smart shot and it was really nice to capitalize on it". "And I thought that was very important today".

"We got in at six under and it was a very, very solid day", Spieth told reporters.

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