22 Jul 2017

Spieth holds onto lead at Open Championship

8:23 am on 22 July 2017

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

Jordan Spieth

Jordan Spieth Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The reigning Australian Open champion and world number three fashioned an eventful two- under-par 69 in the wet and wild weather to climb to six-under for the tournament.

Chasing the third leg of the fabled career grand slam, Spieth is two strokes ahead of fellow American Matt Kuchar (71) after lighting up gloomy Southport with a late eagle three on the par-5 15th.

With his challengers coming and going, Spieth enjoys a three-shot advantage over his next closest pursuers, US Open champion Brooks Koepka and Englishman Ian Poulter.

World number two Hideki Matsuyama shares fifth with Scot Richie Ramsay at two under, while the resurgent Rory McIlroy (68) is "ecstatic" to be back in the red at one-under with a share of sixth.

But the man they all must catch is Spieth, who once again showcased his brilliant short game to take command.

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

He made bogey on the ninth to fall into a share of the lead, and was headed for another - or worse - on number ten when he drove into a pot bunker, blasted out sideways and hit his third shot short and left of the green.

But as the rain picked up, Spieth chipped in for par, then rolled in a 10-metre birdie putt on 11 followed that with a tee shot to less than a metre on 12.

Suddenly he enjoyed a two-shot lead - the former Masters and US Open champion's advantage was back to one after a bogey on 14, but a bounce-back eagle extended his lead to three before a three- putt bogey on 16 gave his chasers hope.

With winds of almost 50 kilometres an 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.

"There's a whole lot of trouble to be had," he said.

Spieth, though, defied a torrential downpour - which led to ground staff needing almost half an hour to sponge the rain-soaked greens - to assume control.

New Zealand golfers Ryan Fox and Michael Hendry look set to miss the weekend cut.

Hendry finished the second round tied for 124th after carding 77 to sit 10 over par.

Fox shot six over par 72, to tie for 79th 12 shots off the leader Jordan Spieth from the United States.

The expected cut-line for the next round is five over.