Spieth relishes Woods British Open battle

Jordan Spieth is in contention for back-to-back British Open titles after a bogey-free third round

Jordan Spieth will take a share of the lead into the final round of the 147th British Open as he looks to become the first back-to-back winner for a decade.

The American could get the battle with Tiger Woods he has always visioned with the 14-time major winner lurking ominously among the chasing pack after a thrilling day of low scoring at a defenceless Carnoustie.

The tone was set when Spieth drove the first green on the 363-metre par-4 and holed a three-metre eagle putt on his way to a bogey-free 65 to finish at nine under; a total matched by compatriots Xander Schauffele (67) and Kevin Kisner (68).

Another American Kevin Chappell (67) is two shots off the lead with Italy's Francesco Molinari (65) on six under alone in fifth.

Woods, who had six birdies in his round of 66, is another stroke back alongside Rory McIlroy (70), Webb Simpson (67), Alex Noren (67), Matt Kuchar (70), Tommy Fleetwood (71) and Zach Johnson (72).

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

"I've played it out at Augusta in my head."

The last player to make a successful title defence was Ireland's Padraig Harrington, who coincidentally won at Carnoustie in 2007 and again 12 months later at Royal Birkdale.

Spieth's victories would be the other way around and make it four wins in his past 15 majors, during which time the 24-year-old has also finished second twice, third and fourth.

"I can certainly draw on the all major championship experiences, good and bad that I've had. I've had a career's worth in a few years," Spieth, who admitted he found it "difficult" to hand over the Claret Jug when he arrived in Carnoustie on Monday, said.

"I know as well as anyone that anything can happen in the Open.

"I'm not getting ahead of myself, I'm just in a good position."

Woods has not played in the Open since 2015 due to injury and is without a victory since 2013, while the last of his 14 major titles to date came a decade ago in the US Open.

But the 42-year-old has made a remarkable return to action since undergoing spinal fusion surgery last April, and his sparkling third round certainly had his legion of fans believing in what had once seemed impossible.

"It seemed like everybody was shooting six, seven under and I figured I could probably do the same and I needed to with the leaders starting at six. I need to go get it," Woods said.

"It's one of my better rounds I've played."

That was certainly not true on the 18th, his tee shot seemingly destined to find the Barry Burn only to take a fortunate bounce to the right to stay on dry land.

Woods made the most of his good fortune to make par.

"It kept me in the fight," he said of his lucky break.

McIlroy was left agitated by his finish, after bogeys on the 16th and last, dropped his back to a tie for sixth.

England's Justin Rose is a shot behind Woods and McIlroy after earlier equalling the lowest score in an Open at Carnoustie with a brilliant 64, a day after needing a birdie on the last just to make the cut.

Australian Adam Scott is also at four under after a 68 left him in the hunt.