Spieth Stumbles a Bit at Masters, but Maintains 5-Shot Lead – ABC News
Jordan Spieth stumbled a few times on the front nine Saturday.
There was his first three-putt of the Masters, another bogey at the seventh. That was more bogeys than he had the first two days combined.
But when the 21-year-old Texan made the turn in the third round, the comfortable lead he had at the start of the day was still intact.
Spieth maintained a five-shot lead by shooting a 1-under 35 on the front side, capped off by a brilliant approach shot at the ninth hole that set up a short birdie putt.
Some of golf’s biggest names — Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy — charged up the leaderboard, all three of them shooting 32 on the front nine. Woods even gave one of his patented fist pumps after a remarkable birdie at the 13th, which began with an angry epitaph after he yanked his drive alongside a creek, leading to apology from CBS.
But Spieth had put such distance on that trio and everyone else over the first two days, setting a 36-hole record with a 14-under 130, it wasn’t enough to make the leader sweat too much.
They needed to do something really special, and Spieth needed to collapse.
Neither was happening.
Woods bogeyed 18 and McIlroy stumbled down the stretch, bogeying two of the last three holes. Both shot 4-under 68 for the day. They were impressive scores, but a staggering nine shots behind Spieth.
McIroy knows that his chances of completing the career Grand Slam on Sunday were pretty much finished.
“I would need something around a 61 or 62 to have a real chance,” said McIlroy, mentioning scores that have never been posted in any major championship. “I’m not sure that’s going to happen, but we’ll see.”
He nearly became the youngest Masters champion a year ago, leading by two strokes on the final day before fading down the stretch to finish in the runner-up spot behind Bubba Watson.
Now, Spieth wants to finish the job — and he’s certainly got history on his side.
The five-shot lead heading to the weekend matched the largest ever at the midway point of the tournament, joining Herman Keiser in 1946, Jack Nicklaus in 1975 and Raymond Floyd in 1976. They all went on to capture the green jacket.
“No scoreboard watching,” Spieth said. “Just keep my head down and set a goal for myself.”
The birdie-friendly greens didn’t get any tougher after overnight rain dampened the course, setting up plenty of chances to go low. Ian Poulter took advantage, posting a 67.
Spieth played in the final group with perhaps the most surprising player of the tournament, Charley Hoffman.
A 38-year-old journeyman who had only qualified for the Masters one other time, back in 2011, Hoffman opened with a pair of rounds in the 60s for a 9-under 135 that would’ve been good enough for the 36-hole lead most years.
Not the way Spieth was playing.
Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963