Jordan Spieth thinks winning the Genesis Scottish Open would be the perfect preparation for next week’s Open after climbing contention in the £6.7m event.
Two eagles in the space of six holes helped the three-time major winner to score a stunning 66 at the Renaissance Club and trail Olympic champion Xander Schauffele by three shots heading into Sunday’s final round.
Schauele, who is looking for back-to-back wins after winning the Travelers Championship a fortnight ago, threatened to open a decisive lead when he covered his first 16 holes in six under, only to bogey the 17th and 18th.
“I had a really nice round,” said Schauffele, whose 66 gave him a total of seven under par and a two-stroke lead over 2017 winner Rafa Cabrera Bello, along with fellow American Ryan Spieth. Palmer and England’s Jordan Smith one shot further. return.
“These last holes are quite difficult but overall I’m very happy. I stuck to what I wanted to do for most of the day.
“It would mean a lot to win here, it would show that my game is going to travel and it would be something for me and my team would be very proud of.”
Spieth, who tapped close on the 10th par five for his first eagle and then broke through 108 yards on the 15th par four, said: “Looked good from the air and certainly a bit lucky that it goes in.
“I’ve had my fair share of breaks on the holes over the years, but the ones that come in with the right speed are the ones that I come away even happier with.
“I thought I could be out of the tournament without a fantastic Saturday and a 66 round here in this breeze is definitely that.
“Coming here and winning the Scottish National Open, a tournament that is co-sanctioned and a Rolex Series event and has become one of the biggest international events, is motivation enough for tomorrow.
“My goal was to have a chance on Sunday. It’s always the week before a major. There’s no better preparation for a major than winning the week before. That said, being in contention takes so much preparation. as possible, so I’m happy to be in the position I’m in.
“I think links golf is arguably my favorite type of golf and I don’t know of any country that has more fantastic links courses than Scotland, obviously being the home of golf.”
Spieth’s Open victory came at Royal Birkdale in 2017, two years after he arrived for the Open from St Andrews having already won the Masters and the US Open and missing the play-off – eventually won by Zach Johnson – in just one time.
Asked about the special appeal of the Old Course ahead of the 150th Open, Spieth added: “I think of the history, but also of the back nine who play in town. I know this is relatively common for links courses in Scotland, but not very common for what we normally see.
“Hitting a hotel on one hole (the 17th) and trying to keep it clear of the cars on the next hole… that’s its own unique test. It may be the easiest major league venue we play at, but it can be one of the toughest given the Scottish weather.
“This year it looks like it could get really firm and fast. The last time we played there we were delayed due to the wind and I don’t think we will have that. But it might have a different set of challenges than seven years ago.
US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick started the day four shots off the lead and finished it in the same position after a 70, the highlight of which came with a 25-foot eagle on the par 16. five.
Halfway leader Cameron Tringale, who shot a clear 61 on Thursday, is also three under par after struggling for a 74.