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Continued: Sputtering 'Mechanic,' thinner crowds, a lesson for Spieth and Phil struggles at Muirfield

  • Article by: DOUG FERGUSON , AP Golf Writer
  • Last update: July 20, 2013 - 5:00 PM

He still has an outside shot, going to the final round six strokes behind leader Lee Westwood. But the fun-loving Spaniard knows his chances are slim, especially with nine players between him and the lead, including Tiger Woods, Adam Scott, Angel Cabrera, Zach Johnson and Phil Mickelson — major winners all.

Jimenez hoped to become the oldest major winner in golf history at age 49. Instead, he'll likely have to settle for a good smoke and a sip of vino from something besides the claret jug.

___

WHERE'S THE CROWDS?: Despite flawless weather, the crowds at Muirfield are noticeably smaller than the last time the British Open came here in 2002.

The R&A reported attendance figures for the first three days of the tournament, as well as the practice. The turnout was slightly higher for practice — a total of 31,320 turned out, but the higher-priced tournament tickets haven't been as much as 11 years ago.

The opening-round crowd Thursday was 23,393, a significant drop from 30,620 in '02. The trend was much the same the last two days. At Muirfield's previous Open, the crowds were 34,479 for the second round, 33,212 for the third.

Also noticeable: the number of empty seats at the 18th hole when Lee Westwood and Tiger Woods arrived. Even the BBC commentators noted that plenty of fans headed home early, despite two of the most popular players still contending for the lead.

No one can blame the weather for the smaller turnouts. It has been sunny all week, with temperatures in the 70s.

___

SCHOOL'S STILL IN SESSION: Jordan Spieth created a stir last weekend by becoming the youngest PGA Tour winner in 82 years.

But he's smart enough to know there's plenty left to learn.

The 19-year-old hobbled to a 5-over 76 Saturday, hurt by bad bounces and worse decisions.

"I wasn't patient and that was the issue," he said. "Bad bounces are going to happen out here, but I could have shot three shots lower, without even playing any different."

Despite being 6 over for the tournament, Spieth enjoyed himself, in part because he played alongside Northern Irishman and major winner Darren Clarke.

"He's obviously loved and I can see why. Extremely nice guy, he's very selfless, he's rooting for me. It was cool," Spieth said.

Despite a full schedule since March and the pressures of being in contention the previous three weekends, Spieth said he didn't think fatigue was a factor in his performance here. That said, he wasn't unhappy about taking time off after the Open.

"Yeah," Spieth acknowledged, "I'm looking forward to it."

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