The Open: Branden Grace, Dustin Johnson could chase down Jordan Spieth

HARTFORD, WI - JUNE 15: Dustin Johnson of the United States reacts after a putt on the 18th green during the first round of the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills on June 15, 2017 in Hartford, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
HARTFORD, WI - JUNE 15: Dustin Johnson of the United States reacts after a putt on the 18th green during the first round of the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills on June 15, 2017 in Hartford, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

Jordan Spieth’s third-round lead at The Open Championship feels insurmountable, but a handful of chasers could give him a run for his money on Sunday.

The Open Championship isn’t over until the last putt drops, even through Jordan Spieth’s Saturday 65 at Royal Birkdale seemingly has cut out almost all the drama from the Sunday finale. To many, the gap seems too large to overcome, for all but one or two players.

Spieth and Matt Kuchar are heading down the stretch comfortably ahead of the field. One-on-one golf is the only possibility in the minds of so many as Saturday turns to Sunday.

Is a Sunday shootout in the works, perhaps?

Will a lead as big as Spieth’s convince him to play too conservatively? Or will a Sunday pairing of the top two so far at The Open Championship force each other into mistakes?

Either way, one thing is clear: there are still more than two horses left in this race.

Friendlier conditions have run scorecards red on Saturday. If the weather remains manageable on Sunday, the leaders may want to keep their heads pointed forward and focus on creating more separation from the pack.

There are three golfers whose electric third rounds could produce some Sunday drama if Spieth and Kuchar fail to step on the gas.

Branden Grace’s major-record 62 rocketed him into contention

The most glaringly obvious candidate to threaten this group is Branden Grace, whose record-breaking 62 saw him go from afterthought to tied for fourth. In case Saturday got away from you, the South African sank eight birdies en route to becoming the first to ever shoot a 62 or better during a major championship round.

Grace is seven shots back of Spieth.

Branden Grace The Open Championship
Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images /

Maybe it’s a touch unreasonable to expect another eight-birdie, zero-bogie performance in back-to-back rounds. On the other hand, if Grace can string together a successful start, those on top of the leaderboard will surely take note of just how quickly Grace is making up ground.

And in that case, the pressure is on.

Matsuyama gets his rhythm back

Grace has company at four-under, joined on the leaderboard—and Sunday, literally, joining him in Grace’s grouping—in Hideki Matsuyama.

After faltering with a bogie on the fourth hole, Matsuyama rattled off three straight birdies going out, and added two more coming in to finish with a 66.

Matsuyama has produced quality finishes this year, including two tour wins in 2017 and a tied-for-second place finish at the U.S. Open on his way to his current No. 2 ranking.

During that U.S. Open, Matsuyama carded a 66 in his final round. If he can close strong, there is a puncher’s chance at taking the trophy home.

Could DJ carry over Saturday’s momentum into Sunday’s finale?

The tour’s No. 1 ranked golfer—regardless of who holds the title—is never to be taken lightly.

It’s the law—or it should be.

Dustin Johnson’s showing through the first two rounds (three-over) was not especially noteworthy, but firing a 64 on Saturday has positioned well enough to become dangerous, if Spieth and Kuchar begin to fall back to the field.

Johnson was close to pushing 62 as well during third round play. A few late-round putts eluded the hole, however, leaving him five strokes behind Spieth.

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Like Grace, a bogie-free round is making a strong major finish possible. If the leader in Greens Hit in Regulation can pound those fairways, Johnson has a pulse during the final 18.

Eight shots off the lead will be tough to make up, but not impossible.

Not when you’re No. 1.

So what are the chances someone not named Spieth or Kuchar is holding the trophy in the winner’s circle on Sunday afternoon?

Small. But larger leads have been coughed up. And some of the best rounds of major round golf were completed just hours ago.

Don’t change that channel quite yet, folks. There is plenty of opportunity for an action-packed, photo finish.

Next: The Open Championship: Five American Sleepers

Will Jordan Spieth complete his march toward Open history on Sunday? Or will one of the dark horses be ready to pounce on any mistake he makes along the way? Catch all the action Sunday at