SOUTHPORT - Jordan Spieth was readying himself for a victory charge on Sunday as the final round of the British Open got underway in glorious conditions at Royal Birkdale.
Spieth, 23, sits atop the leaderboard on 11 under par after shooting a flawless 65 on Saturday -- his third consecutive round in the 60s -- while compatriot Matt Kuchar is his nearest challenger at eight-under.
The American duo are the last pairing to tee off in their final round, going out at 2:30pm local time (1330 GMT).
Spieth admitted he would be trying to put the nerves to one side until then and get some much-needed rest before starting his round.
"It's a little bit tougher to sleep but I've been fine recently," he said of the pressure that comes with going out late in the day.
"I expect to be. If not, I can sleep during the day -- we don't tee off until pretty late.
"But I wouldn't rather be in any other position than where we're at. And we have an opportunity to have a really special day on the golf course. I'm excited about it."
Behind Kuchar, there is a gap to 20-year-old Open debutant Austin Connelly -- born and brought up in Texas like Spieth but representing Canada -- and current US Open champion Brooks Koepka, who are both on five under par.
They tee off at 2:20pm and the final pairings will hope the perfect summer weather that greeted the earlier starters on Sunday holds into the afternoon.
Japan's world number two Hideki Matsuyama and Branden Grace of South Africa are both four-under with the latter fresh from becoming the first player ever to shoot a round of 62 in a major championship on Saturday.
Chan Kim, Sweden's defending champion Henrik Stenson and world number one Dustin Johnson are all three-under, surely too far back to threaten Spieth.
Spieth, winner of the Masters and US Open in 2015, is looking to emulate the great Jack Nicklaus by getting his hands on a third different major before turning 24.
Memories are still fresh of the Masters last year, when like this week he led after each of the first three rounds but choked when it came to the crunch.
He was five shots clear approaching the 10th on the Sunday at Augusta, only to drop six shots in three holes and eventually lose out to England's Danny Willett.
"I think I'm in a position where it can be very advantageous, just everything I've gone through, the good, the bad, and everything in the middle," said the world number three when asked if he would use that experience to his advantage on Sunday.
"I understand that leads can be squandered quickly, and I also understand how you can keep on rolling on one."
In contrast to Spieth, the 39-year-old Kuchar has never triumphed in a major. But the last seven majors have all gone to first-time winners and five of the last six British Opens have been won by players aged 39 or older.
"Continue with good golf. Again, I'll be playing with him but not focused on him. My goal is to go out and play Royal Birkdale," said Kuchar of his impending battle with Spieth for the Claret Jug.
The odds are in favour of a sixth American winner in 10 Opens to be held at Birkdale, on the Irish Sea coast in the town of Southport near Liverpool.
Former winners include Arnold Palmer in 1961 and Tom Watson in 1983.
Those chasing Spieth will need to score low, just as Australia's Aaron Baddeley did early in the morning. He went round in six-under 64 but is +1 for the championship.
Willett, who has toiled since beating Spieth to the green jacket at Augusta, was handed the first tee time on Sunday at 7:55am and shot 71.
Crowds thronged the stands from early on at the Birkdale fairways and organisers have been optimistic that the attendance this week could beat the previous Open record of 239,000, set at St Andrews in 2000.AFP