American Spieth emerges from epic duel to win British Open

SOUTHPORT, England, July 23 (Reuters) - Jordan Spieth survived a roller-coaster final round at the British Open to emerge with his third major title, beating fellow American Matt Kuchar by three strokes in a thrilling duel at Royal Birkdale on Sunday. Spieth carded a one-under-par round of 69 to finish on 12-under for the tournament but, after three days of consistent golf by the American, it was a remarkable day of highs and lows for the 23-year-old.

The Texan began the day with a three-stroke lead but saw that evaporate on the front nine, where he made four bogeys and a birdie to enter the turn sharing the lead with Kuchar on eight-under.

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The drama began when Spieth drove wildly into the dunes on the 13th hole.

He was forced to take a penalty stroke after deeming the ball 'unplayable' and after some confusion and a lengthy series of deliberations, he played his second shot from the edge of the practice range next to the television trucks.

Spieth scrambled to make a creditable bogey out of the par-four hole but that still handed the lead to Kuchar, who was playing the more solid golf as the wind rose and temperature fell.

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Spieth Wins British Open
SOUTHPORT, ENGLAND - JULY 23: Jordan Spieth of the United States celebrates victory as he poses with the Claret Jug on the 18th green during the final round of the 146th Open Championship at Royal Birkdale on July 23, 2017 in Southport, England. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
SOUTHPORT, ENGLAND - JULY 23: Jordan Spieth of the United States celebrates victory as he poses with the Claret Jug on the 18th green during the final round of the 146th Open Championship at Royal Birkdale on July 23, 2017 in Southport, England. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
US golfer Jordan Spieth is applauded as he arrives to be presented with the Claret Jug, the trophy for the Champion golfer of the year after winning the 2017 British Open Golf Championship at Royal Birkdale golf course near Southport in north west England on July 23, 2017. Jordan Spieth won the British Open at Royal Birkdale on Sunday by three shots. It is Spieth's third major title after he won the Masters and US Open in 2015. / AFP PHOTO / Oli SCARFF / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
SOUTHPORT, ENGLAND - JULY 23: Jordan Spieth of the United States acknowledges the crowd as he walks onto the 18th green during the final round of the 146th Open Championship at Royal Birkdale on July 23, 2017 in Southport, England. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
SOUTHPORT, ENGLAND - JULY 23: Jordan Spieth of the United States hits his third shot on the 18th green during the final round of the 146th Open Championship at Royal Birkdale on July 23, 2017 in Southport, England. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
SOUTHPORT, ENGLAND - JULY 23: Jordan Spieth of the United States embraces his caddie Michael Greller after victory on the 18th green during the final round of the 146th Open Championship at Royal Birkdale on July 23, 2017 in Southport, England. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
SOUTHPORT, ENGLAND - JULY 23: Matt Kuchar of the United States hits his second shot to the 15th hole during the final round of the 146th Open Championship at Royal Birkdale on July 23, 2017 in Southport, England. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
SOUTHPORT, ENGLAND - JULY 23: Jordan Spieth of the United States tees off during the final round of the 146th Open Championship at Royal Birkdale on July 23, 2017 in Southport, England. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
SOUTHPORT, ENGLAND - JULY 23: Matt Kuchar of the United States hits a bunker shot on the 15th hole during the final round of the 146th Open Championship at Royal Birkdale on July 23, 2017 in Southport, England. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
SOUTHPORT, ENGLAND - JULY 23: Jordan Spieth of the United States celebrates an eagle on the 15th hole during the final round of the 146th Open Championship at Royal Birkdale on July 23, 2017 in Southport, England. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
US golfer Jordan Spieth (C) considers his options on where to place the ball after taking a penalty drop for having an unplayable lie on the 13th hole during his final round on day four of the 2017 Open Golf Championship at Royal Birkdale golf course near Southport in north west England on July 23, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Ben STANSALL / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)
SOUTHPORT, ENGLAND - JULY 23: Jordan Spieth of the United States considers his options with Rules Officials on the 13th hole during the final round of the 146th Open Championship at Royal Birkdale on July 23, 2017 in Southport, England. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Sweden's Alex Noren watches his iron shot from the 14th tee during his final round on day four of the 2017 Open Golf Championship at Royal Birkdale golf course near Southport in north west England on July 23, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Oli SCARFF / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
US golfer Rickie Fowler watches his iron shot from the 14th tee during his final round on day four of the 2017 Open Golf Championship at Royal Birkdale golf course near Southport in north west England on July 23, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Oli SCARFF / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
SOUTHPORT, ENGLAND - JULY 23: Jordan Spieth of the United States celebrates an eagle on the 15th hole during the final round of the 146th Open Championship at Royal Birkdale on July 23, 2017 in Southport, England. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
SOUTHPORT, ENGLAND - JULY 23: Jordan Spieth of the United States celebrates victory after the winning putt on the 18th green during the final round of the 146th Open Championship at Royal Birkdale on July 23, 2017 in Southport, England. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
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However, the sight of his rival alone at the top of the leaderboard appeared to click a switch in Spieth who responded with a birdie on the par-three 14th, where he was close to a hole-in-one.

Spieth then brilliantly sank a 45-yard putt to eagle the par-five 15th and followed that with two more birdies on the 16th and 17th.

Spieth, who won the U.S Masters and U.S. Open in 2015, has joined Jack Nicklaus to become one of only two players to win three legs of the career grand slam before turning 24. Tiger Woods was 24 when he won his third different major.

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