Spieth Rises To Mount Challenge For Back-To-Back Open Crowns
Simon Sinclair 2018-07-22 in SBO Weekly
Jordan Spieth has a share of the lead ahead of the final round of the Open as he aims to become the first man since Padraig Harrington in 2008 to defend the crown.
The American produced a brilliant round of six-under on Saturday to surge to the top of the leaderboard, although he will face competition for the Claret Jug.
Kevin Kisner remains a strong contender for the tournament, maintaining his high level of form. Xander Schauffele put forward another fine display to join his compatriots at the summit.
Neither Kisner or Schauffele have won a major, and their inexperience at sealing the deal could be a crucial factor with Spieth along with other contenders ready to take the crown, including Tiger Woods.
The 24-year-old announced his intent on the first hole of the day as he selected his driver. It was a bold strategy from the 2017 champion, but he rose to the occasion to find the green. He sank the resulting eagle putt to spark a surge to the top of the leaderboard. Spieth was able to build on his early success by notching his first birdie of the day at the fourth, while he was solid for the rest of the front nine to head three-under on the day at the turn.
The American continued to impress on the course with a birdie at the 11th, putting the pressure on the leading group behind him. The 14th hole has been a venue of success for most of the field this week and Spieth ensured that he capitalised once again, with a birdie to move to five-under on the day. He then birdied with a two on the par-three 16th, ensuring that he had a share of the lead following a round of 65 and nine-under on the tournament. Given Spieth’s pedigree the value for his victory is not great, although odds of 2/13.00+2002.002.00-0.50 can be found for a triumph at 888Sport.
After Spieth upped the ante it would have been easy for Kisner to fold under the pressure. However, the 34-year-old remains on course for a challenge to take his compatriot all the way at Carnoustie. He was solid on Saturday, but was more clinical around the course to keep pace with the 2017 champion. Kisner notched an early birdie on the third hold to calm the nerves after his implosion on the 18th hole. He remained composed on the sixth hole to cash in on the par five, notching his second birdie of the day, taking a score of two-under into the turn.
Kisner was playing with Zach Johnson, who had a difficult time to recapture his form from Friday. However, Kisner was able to hold his nerve sinking par putts with ease before he scored his third birdie of his round to move level with Spieth at the top. He banished his demons from the 18th from the previous day with a solid par to end the round with a card of 68. Kisner has good value at odds of 13/27.50+6506.506.50-0.15 with BetVictor to take his maiden major crown on Sunday.
Schauffele completes the American trifecta tied for the lead heading into the final round. He had a slow start to the competition on his opening round, but has come to life in his past two rounds to move to the top of the leaderboard. The 24-year-old has not been active on the major scene for long – competing in just the last five tournaments. However, he has two top-10 finishes under his belt and has proven to have the nerve to cope with the demands of the Carnoustie course. Schauffele carded a five-under round of 66 on Friday and almost matched his exploits on Saturday.
He began on a poor note, bogeying the second, only to bounce back with three birdies on the spin between the fifth and the seventh to enter the turn on two-under. Schauffele reeled off four-straight pars on the back nine before carding back-to-back birdies on the 14th and 15th. A mistake on the 18th knocked him out of the lead, but he responded with his sixth birdie of the day on the final hole. Schauffele is an intriguing option at odds of 5/16.00+5005.005.00-0.20 with Betway to make a breakthrough in his career.
Woods produced the form that has eluded him for too long on the major stage to move into contention for the Open. It has been 10 years since the American last won a major – last triumphing at the US Open in 2008. The three-time Open winner rounded into form after two solid performances on the opening day of the championship, carding a five-under round. However, it could have been better for the 42-year-old and he still has a lot of work ahead of him to overtake Spieth and company at the top of the leaderboard.
Woods began his round with three-straight pars before making the first of his birdies at the fourth. He followed it up with birdies at the sixth and just before the turn at the ninth. Woods had momentum and made it three-straight birdies with fine putts at 10 and 11. He ensured that he capitalised at the 14th, but he lost his way slightly towards the end of his round. A bogey on the 16th put a blemish on his card. Woods remains a contender four shots off the lead at odds of 16/117.00+160016.0016.00-0.06 with 888Sport.
McIlroy did not have the performance that he would have been looking for to propel him into contention. However, the Northern Irishman is capable of making a run that could make up the four shots and beyond on the final day of the Open. The 29-year-old’s nerves were put to the test in the early stages of his round as he carded a bogey on the fourth hole. He had ample time to respond with back-to-back birdies to enter the turn one-under for the day.
His back nine would be frustrating as McIlroy gained a stroke at the 11th, only to give it up immediately at the 12th. He re-ignited his charge with back-to-back birdies for the second time of his round to move to seven-under and within striking distance of the lead. However, loose play off the tee caused him to drop two shots on the remaining three holes to move back into the pack. The Northern Irishman’s odds of 16/117.00+160016.0016.00-0.06 with Betway prove that he has a lot to do on the final round.
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