Spieth copes best in grim conditions to lead British Open

Sweden’s Henrik Stenson signs autographs after a practice round ahead of the British Open Golf Championship at Royal Birkdale Southport England Wednesday

Prior to a brief suspension in play forced by the day's most torrential downpour, Spieth was tied for the lead but looked certain to drop at least one shot at the par-four 10th, where he was forced to pitch out sideways from a fairway bunker and then flew the green with his third shot.

But bogeys on the 13th and 15th holes undid some of his progress up the leaderboard, although a birdie on the 17th allowed him to end the day on a high note.

Spieth missed the green just twice in his round, his putting was solid and when he did get into tricky rough, he retained his composure.

"Getting back to the gym was tough, but if I'm mentally recharged then so is my swing".

"I chipped in right before it and it couldn't have been better timing".

"I missed (the cut) with flair", Mickelson said. We were able to do so very well on the last eight. I thought it was going to be like that for a lot of the round. I think the golf course is certainly a better test than St. Andrews is. You've really got to be creative.

While that can make the Open Championship an easier major to win in theory, Spieth suggested, he added that it isn't in practice because of the skill set required.

"Honestly, right now I'm happy to be inside, first and foremost", said Spieth, the Masters and US Open victor in 2015, after his round.

"Yes, I'm watching the tennis, but I'm watching him more than anything, and seeing what I can pick up". This year I recognize that that kind of year, hopefully, we can have another one or two like that. "We go out there and set a goal given what conditions are forecast and it's no different from any other week".

"When I won those three tournaments in '14, I was going into the Masters the next year thinking I can win the (career) grand slam, I can do this, I can do that, and some things just come along that you don't expect and that's really been a couple of injuries the last couple of years that stopped me in my tracks".

The 39-year-old was expecting them to encounter plenty of problems as conditions deteriorated so he may have been surprised by the quality of Spieth's round.

Former champion Rory McIlroy (2014) continued his comeback from an opening-round string of bogeys, chipping in on the fourth hole for one of three birdies in his opening six holes.

"What people enjoy about The Open is watching the hard wind, the rain, the guys just trying to survive out there". "Today is my day". "But this was definitely the round that got me back into the championship". Almost opposite wind of what we had yesterday. Of course, Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson could change a lot of minds on that, depending on how they play.

"And this wind, it felt like every hole was a crosswind hole".

You can feel a buzz in the gallery when it begins. The wind was so strong.

The American shot a 69 on Friday in miserable weather conditions to sit at six under par and lead the championship by two strokes from his compatriot Matt Kuchar.

A tee shot into a bunker on the par-3 14th led to a bogey, but it didn't keep him down for long. But it's fun, two over is not the worst score and is not going to kill me. "Now I just have to do it of course". "I don't know if we'd be in any better score if I was on the other side of the draw".

"I feel good. The game feels good". And sometimes I get down on myself.

The American felt a bogey at the 18th, after finding one of Birkdale's 123 bunkers, summed up his hard day.

"Everything he does is pretty much spot on, the way he handles himself, the grace in which he plays the sport I think is incredible. I was happy to see that and just have to try to keep that going for the next two days".

"It's not very good on the wrist when you're hitting it out of the hay".

"I wish I could blame it on the wind". So he switched from a 3-iron to a 3-wood, hit it a little off the neck and watched it run hot and fast some 100 yards along the wet turf to about 18 feet away.

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