The Open 2018: Jordan Spieth relishes Tiger Woods challenge at Carnoustie

By Peter ScrivenerBBC Sport at Carnoustie
The 147th Open Championship
Venue: Carnoustie, Scotland Dates: 19-22 July
Coverage: Live across BBC Radio, highlights on BBC TV and online, live text commentaries on BBC website.

Jordan Spieth says it is a "dream come true" to battle 14-time major winner Tiger Woods on the final day of the Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Defending champion Spieth shares the lead with fellow Americans Kevin Kisner and Xander Schauffele at nine under.

Former world number one Woods, 42, is four shots behind after his lowest round at a major since 2011.

"I've always wanted to battle it out with Tiger in a major - who hasn't?" said 24-year-old Spieth.

Woods has not won a major since 2008 after personal problems and serious injury interrupted his career, but played himself into contention at Carnoustie with a five-under 66 on Saturday.

The three-time Open champion says "it's going to be fun" finding out if he can win on the Scottish links for a 15th major.

"It's been a few years since I've felt like this," he said.

"I'm right there. I've got a chance at this, which is great. I had to stay within reach."

Spieth, bidding to become the first man to retain the Claret Jug since 2008, eagled the par-four first in a bogey-free 65.

But, on a course where Paul Lawrie fought back from a record 10-shot deficit to win the 1999 Championship, the Texan believes Woods will pose a significant threat during Sunday's final round.

"I think I played it out at Augusta in my head," he said. "It's kind of a dream come true just to have the opportunity."

The pair will not be together for the final round but the roars the fans following their respective groups generated on Saturday will certainly make them aware of each other's movements.

"I saw he played pretty well. I'm not surprised. He seemed confident walking off the putting green, the little that we talked," said Spieth.

"It's nice that he's on point. It's really good for the sport, obviously, for the extra interest.

"And the way that he's striking those two or three irons, he's certainly going to be in it, which is really exciting for us."

But it's not just about Woods v Spieth.

With high winds and rain forecast for Sunday afternoon at the Carnoustie links on the east coast of Scotland, BBC Sport commentator Ken Brown said: "There are 35 players who will think that if they have the round of their lives early on before the winds hit they have a real chance."

Saturday was played in largely benign conditions, with the sun breaking through cloudy skies amid light winds. That led to low scoring and a leaderboard that swayed wildly.

Three-time Claret Jug winner Woods, who missed the previous two Opens with back issues, added: "That was good. I played well. I had to stay in reach. And four is definitely in reach. Especially if we get the weather that has been forecast.

"However, if the bad weather doesn't come in, then we know we're going to have to shoot eight under par on Sunday."

Thousands followed Woods around the links and it was not difficult to know exactly where he was with cheers echoing across the course, heralding each of his six birdies.

That is not to say there was not support for others in contention. But comparing the crowd's reaction to Woods walking from the 15th green to 16th tee, which was spine-tingling to be in the midst of, with that to Spieth, and even Rory McIlroy, it is apparent who the vast majority want to win.

And it is not just the fans. Commentator Andrew Cotter declared in the BBC Two highlights programme: "I am giddy with excitement. There's a wave of nostalgia and you see what he does for golf.

"To have him in contention on the final day is what you want. He was so impressive, and if he's not quite back to his very best he's getting there."

McIlroy is, like Woods, four back after dropping a shot at the last.

The Northern Irishman, who won the last of his four majors four years ago, said: "I need to get off to a fast start. I'm still in the tournament and the wind is supposed to pick up so it will make things interesting."

On his approach to Sunday, the 2014 Open champion added the plan is "definitely to go out and hit a lot of drivers".

Spieth said he had spent Saturday morning watching on the television and realising "the course was gettable".

He then walked into Carnoustie for a hair cut. "He went a bit high and tight," smiled Spieth. "A classic £9 British hair cut. Cost me £20."

Back to the golf, he added: "I'm just glad to have given myself a chance after the way I played on day one. And now it's set up for a classic Carnoustie Open with a bunched-up field and 25mph winds due.

"Saturday was about it taking shot by shot and I was really solid. Sunday might be more about expecting the unexpected. And it will mean a bit more with Tiger in there competing too. It's nice to get the opportunity."


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