Might we see a 61 Sunday?! Plus four other questions after Round 3 of the British Open

July 22, 2017

Only one round remains but many questions linger heading into Sunday at the British Open. Here are five queries we can’t wait to see resolved.

1. Does another Duel in the Sun await? Or should we call it a Shootout in Southport? Like Nicklaus and Watson at Turnberry in ’77, and Stenson and Mickelson at Troon last year, Jordan Spieth and Matt Kuchar have separated themselves from the field, setting the stage for a two-man showdown. Will either stumble? Or will everyone else just be playing for third place?

2. Sixty-two, sixty-schmoo. Do we hear 61? In docile conditions, Branden Grace became the first man in history to card a 62 in a major championship. The current forecast calls for more benign weather on Sunday. Will anyone do Grace one better?

3. Can anyone play catch up? Spieth and Kuchar have been the two standouts. But a lot of firepower still lurks on the first page of the leaderboard. Koepka. DJ. Stenson. Hideki. Rory. Will any of these big guns post a silly number and turn this into something other than a two-man race?

4. Will Birkdale bite back? “Fair” was the word many players used to describe Royal Birkdale in the run-up to the championship. But “defanged” was how the layout looked on Saturday without moody weather to help protect it. Barring a goofy setup (and no way the R&A would stoop to that) Birkdale’s last defenses are pot bunkers and the quirks of links golf. Oh, and the pressure of a British Open. Any chance, through some combination of those three, that the course finds a way to bare its teeth?

5. Spieth Impediment? We can spend a lot of time spinning other story lines, but when it comes down to it, Spieth has a three-shot lead, and aside from his collapse at the 2016 Masters, the 23-year-old is already rightly seen as a steely closer. If he holds on to claim the claret jug, he’ll have a chance next month to become the youngest player ever to record the career gland slam at the PGA Championship in Quail Hollow. Given everything at stake, is there any possibility Spieth gets in his own way?