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Spieth moves clear of field at British Open

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Brooks Koepka blew away the field to claim last month's US Open at Erin Hills

A victory in The Open Championship would allow him to claim three of the four major championships before the age of 24.

Exhibit A of this came on the final hole. His lone regret was a poor par putt on the 16th, but he more than atoned for that with his bunker shot for eagle. Even so, it beats by one shot his previous best - a 66 in the second round at Oak Hill in the 2013 PGA Championship.

But the real Jordan Spieth stood up, his chipping and putting right off the top shelf. And thought to myself, I am glad I'm over here, glad I'm doing this. "I was very pleased with our tee-to-green performance".

Conditions in Southport were tough for the early starters on Thursday, with dropped shots aplenty on the opening hole, where Mark O'Meara teed off first and carded a quadruple-bogey eight. And he learned enough from watching TV to know that going a little long on the par-5 15th would give him a better birdie chance than playing short. He doesn't have any plans to treat himself to something special - although the Claret Jug might be nice to get on Sunday. We see calls for major winds and rain seemingly every Open, and more often than not the afternoon mellows out into very playable conditions.

"But we've been moving in the right direction and I believe we can do this". Course is unique. Fans are unique. "So really good fun".

Branden Grace's stunning 62 - the lowest round in men's major championship history - showed what was possible on a calm day in Southport, with Birkdale's handsome links having been softened appreciably by the previous day's rain. That sounds intuitive, but it's not always easy to do. "It seems like today we played a lot of in and across", he said. "It's hard to stay that way in majors". But things improved, and all those low scores would suggest a double-digit-under-par victor. Nobody shoots 7, 8, 9, 10 under par. However, his demons, for the time being, appear to be behind him after an excellent first round. That alone should concern his fellow competitors, seeing as Spieth - victor of the Masters and U.S. Open in 2015 - doesn't typically move backward (with apologies to No. 12 at Augusta).

And aside from that blown green jacket in 2016, Spieth is a closer of historic proportions.

Branden Grace has made major championship history.

This one will mean more than a lot of them.

Like Federer, the 35-year-old tennis superstar who took time off because of injuries and to avoid burnout, both Spieth and Koepka are rested. Only 16 golfers have ever won at least three legs. And certainly once you've done it and you get to watch, it's kind of the icing on the cake. Total belief in yourself. If push turns to shove, expect a titanic tussle between Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. Head down, focused on whatever goal we set for tomorrow. In other circumstances it might have been a different day but the way it ended I feel good.

He said: "This morning I would have gladly stayed on the couch, I would have loved that!"

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