Apr 11, 2015 8:34 PM
Remember Spieth's up-and-down Saturday if he wins Masters
The Associated Press
AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) 8:26 p.m.
If Jordan Spieth goes on to win the Masters, remember the up-an-down he made on the 18th hole Saturday.
Coming off a double bogey at No. 17, Spieth flew his approach into the gallery behind the green. He had to chip over a bunker and didn't have much green to work with, but he managed to get the ball within 10 feet of the cup. He rolled in the par-saving putt, ensuring he went to the final round with a four-stroke lead over Justin Rose.
"It was really big. It was huge," Spieth said. "It was one of the bigger putts I've ever hit."
He conceded that he got away from his game plan after making birdies at the 15th and 16th holes, which gave him a commanding seven-shot lead and making him only the second player after Tiger Woods to reach 18-under par at the Masters.
Spieth started looking at the scoreboard, and he made the decision to go with a driver off the tee at 17. He wound up hitting into the trees, failed to reach the green with his second shot, flubbed a chip and three-putted for a 6.
He was in trouble again at 18, but managed to escape.
Now, it's on to Sunday, where Spieth will be playing in the final group for the second year in a row. The 21-year-old was leading in his Masters debut before he faded down the stretch, settling for the runner-up spot behind Bubba Watson.
Spieth knows that some of the guys chasing him, including Phil Mickelson (five shots behind) and even Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy (both 10 shots back) will get huge cheers on Sunday.
"Especially in the group in front of us. Everyone loves Phil. Why wouldn't you love Phil?" Spieth said. "It's about just throwing those out of my mind, not worrying about it, not caring, setting a goal and being patient with the opportunities that are going to come my way."
The Masters always seems to bring out the best in Phil Mickelson.
Lefty hasn't done much this year, failing to finish higher than 17th on the PGA Tour. But he'll go to the final round of the Masters in the next-to-last group after shooting a 5-under 67 on Saturday.
A three-time Augusta champion, Mickelson shot 32 on the front side and had the crowd roaring when he rolled in a 40-foot birdie putt at the 16th. He stumbled on 17 with a three-putt bogey, but a par at the final hole gave him hope going to Sunday.
He's at 11-under 205, five shots behind leader Jordan Spieth.
Mickelson knew it could've been better.
"On the back, I ended up making two bogeys that stalled my round," he said, also referring to a slip up at the 11th.
Not that he's complaining too much.
"It really is the best to play late on the weekends here at Augusta," Mickelson said.
He wore a pink shirt in honor of Arnold Palmer, figuring he needed an Arnie-like charge to get back in contention.
Mickelson will go back to his customary black on Sunday in hopes of complementing it with green.
Justin Rose has been a slow starter at this Masters.
But he sure knows how to close.
Now, the 2013 U.S. Open champion will be looking for his best finish yet.
For the second day in a row, Rose played brilliantly down the stretch Saturday, making birdies on five of the last six holes for a 5-under 67 that put him the final group with Jordan Spieth.
Rose still has some work to do he's four strokes behind but he likes going out with the leader.
"It'll be great to keep an eye on him," Rose said.
He put himself in a hole Saturday by bogeying two of the first five holes, but didn't let it get him down.
Heck, that was actually an improvement on Rose's start Friday, when he bogeyed three of the first four holes but still managed to shoot 70.
Give the kid another record.
Jordan Spieth posted the lowest 54-hole score in Masters history by shooting a 2-under 70 Saturday, sending him to the final round with a four-stroke lead.
Spieth's total over three mostly brilliant days at Augusta National was 16-under 200, breaking the mark of 201 set by Raymond Floyd in 1976 and matched by Tiger Woods in 1997.
The 21-year-old Texan set the record even with a double bogey at the 17th, giving a glimmer of hope to those who'll be chasing him Sunday.
Justin Rose birdied five of the last six holes for a 67 that got him into the final group with Spieth on Sunday. Rose was at 204 overall.
Three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson was another stroke behind after shooting 67.
Charley Hoffman shot 71 and is six shots back, probably the only other player with a realistic shot on the final day.
Everyone else is at least 10 shots back. The group at 210 includes Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.
Spieth set the record with a brilliant up-and-down for par at the 18th hole. After hitting into the gallery behind a bunker, he pitched out 10 feet below the flag and made the putt.
Say this about Jordan Spieth: He's not perfect.
In his worst stumble of the Masters, Spieth made a double-bogey 6 at the 17th hole Saturday, providing a bit of hope to those who'll be chasing him in the final round.
Spieth joined Tiger Woods as the only players to reach 18-under par at the Masters with a birdie at No. 16, giving him a commanding seven-shot lead his biggest of the week.
But Spieth hit his next drive behind a tree, fluffed a pitch that barely made the green, and three-putted from there to drop his score back to 16 under.
He went to the 18th hole with only a four-shot lead over Justin Rose, who birdied five of his last six holes for a 67 that assured he'll be in the final group with Spieth on Sunday.
Despite his double bogey, Spieth needed only a par on the final hole to set another Masters scoring record.
He already set the 36-hole mark (14-under 130) and was looking to take down the 54-hole record, a 15-under 201 shared by Raymond Floyd (1976) and Woods ('97).
Jordan Spieth could be on the way to another Masters scoring record.
The young Texan already set the 36-hole mark with a 14-under 130, and he's positioned to break the 54-hole record, as well. That mark, a 15-under 201, was set by Raymond Floyd in 1976 and matched by Tiger Woods in 1997.
Spieth was 18 under after back-to-back birdies on 15 and 16.
He leads Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose by seven strokes two shots better than the lead Spieth had over Charley Hoffman going into the third round.
In all likelihood, Spieth will go to the final round at Augusta National needing merely to avoid an epic collapse, though Mickelson was trying to put some pressure on him.
Lefty rolled in a 40-foot birdie putt at the 16th to get to 6 under for the round. But he bogeyed 17.
Justin Rose was also making a push, holing out from the bunker at the same hole to get to 11 under for the tournament, tied with Mickelson.
The leader was a bit shaky at the start of the third round, making more bogeys in the first seven holes (two) than he did the first two days (one). But a brilliant approach into the ninth hole set up a short birdie putt, and he can now post his third straight round in the 60s merely by making pars on the last three holes.
Tiger Woods did something Saturday he hasn't done at a major in four years: He posted a score in the 60s on the weekend.
It could have been so much better.
Woods shot a 4-under 68 in the third round, sparking some of the loudest cheers of the day when made a remarkable birdie at the 13th hole after yanking his drive into the trees.
But Woods finished with a pair of bogeys, failing to take advantage of a fine 32 on the front side. He was 11 shots behind Jordan Spieth and it could be an even bigger deficit by the time the leader finishes his round.
"I had my chances to make this a really special round today," Woods said. "Man, I had it going there for a little bit. I made a stupidly good birdie at 13 and a stupidly bad bogey at 14. You know, it all evens out."
Still, considering the mess his game was in just a couple of months ago, it's been an impressive showing. He had gone 18 straight weekend rounds in the majors without breaking 70 going back to the 2011 Masters, when he shot 67 in the final round.
Woods is not giving up, but he knows that it will be tough for anyone to catch Spieth.
"I'm going to have to post something low," he said. "It's in Jordan's hands right now."
Woods took two months off to work on his game after walking off the course at Torrey Pines in early February. He didn't even play a tournament before announcing just over a week ago that he would make his return at the first major of the year, and where he has won four times but not since 2004.
"I'm starting to get my feel back, my distance control and my shots," he said.
Rory McIlroy is realistic about his chances of completing the career Grand Slam this year.
McIlroy shot his best round of the week with a 4-under 68 at the Masters on Saturday, but bogeys on two of the last three holes left the world's top-ranked player a daunting nine shots behind leader Jordan Spieth.
Looking ahead to Sunday, McIlroy said, "I would need something around 61 or 62 to have a real chance."
No one has ever shot better than 63 in any major championship.
"I'm not sure that's going to happen, but we'll see," McIlroy said, trying to sound hopeful.
This was his first chance for the Grand Slam. Only 25, he's already won the U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship.
Jordan Spieth made the turn during the third round of the Masters still holding the same five-stroke lead he had at the start of the day.
The 21-year-old Texan wasn't nearly as dominant Saturday as he was the first two days. He made a couple of bogeys, including his first three-putt of the tournament. But a brilliant approach at the ninth set up a 5-foot birdie putt that gave him a 1-under 35 on the front side.
Spieth was 15 under for the tournament, still comfortably in front of Phil Mickelson and Charlie Hoffman.
Mickelson, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy all shot 32 on the front side, pushing some of golf's biggest names into prime spots on the leaderboard, though they still faced daunting deficits.
McIlroy stumbled at the end of his round, bogeying two of the last three holes for 4-under 68. He was nine shots behind Spieth.
"I got off to a good start," McIlroy said. "Overall, felt like I played pretty well. Just a little disappointed at the way I finished."
Tiger Woods started the 13th hole by letting go of his driver and unleashing a curse word.
He finished it with a rousing fist pump.
It seemed like old times at the Masters.
While Woods had a lot of work to do, he showed some of the old magic Saturday afternoon at Augusta National.
Woods yanked his tee shot alongside the creek that runs down the left side of the fairway, cursing himself and forcing CBS to apologize if viewers heard his salty language. But he was able to get it back into the fairway, then hit his third shot about 15 feet left of the pin. From there, he rolled in the birdie putt, setting off a wild ovation for the four-time Masters champion.
Woods was still seven shots off the lead, but considering the state of his game just a couple of months ago, it's been a remarkable performance.
He was 7 under and back in the mix at a major championship.
There was a lot of movement on the Masters leaderboard, provided by some of golf's biggest names, but the guy on top was still out front by five strokes.
Jordan Spieth came into Saturday having matched the largest lead ever at the midway point of the tournament, and he pushed it to six shots with a birdie at the par-5 second hole. Then, at No. 4, the young Texan three-putted for the first time all week, taking just his second bogey of the tournament.
Still, Spieth was at 14 under overall.
Charley Hoffman, playing in the final group with Spieth, made pars on the first four holes. Three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson charged into a tie for second at 9 under with a run of three straight birdies beginning at No. 2.
Rory McIlroy shot 32 on the front side and got to 7 under with a two-putt birdie on the par-5 13th. And don't forget Tiger Woods, the four-time Masters winner. He also shot 32 on the front side and was 6 under overall.
Before the round, Spieth was on the practice green when he realized he was missing something: the right golf balls.
Spieth plays a Titleist golf ball with the number "2'' stamped on it for Saturday rounds, and he switches to the "1'' for Sunday. A few minutes before his tee time, his agent and an Augusta National member rushed into the locker room, looking like it was a state emergency.
A few minutes later, they emerged carrying two sleeves of balls.
"Got to have the 2s," agent Jay Danzi said.
The world's top-ranked player isn't giving up on his career Grand Slam.
Rory McIlroy shot a 9-under 63 over what amounted to a complete round at Augusta National the back nine Friday, the front nine Saturday to at least put a little heat on leader Jordan Spieth.
McIlroy made the turn in the third round of the Masters about the time Spieth was teeing off with a commanding five-stroke lead.
While Spieth insisted he wouldn't be watching the scoreboard, he surely noticed McIlroy making quite a charge. He rolled in an eagle at the second hole, and closed the front side with back-to-back birdies at the eighth and ninth.
McIlroy pushed his score to 6 under overall eight shots off the lead. If he can post another low score on the back side, it would at least give Spieth something to think about.
Here comes Tiger Woods.
Taking advantage of Augusta National's soft greens after overnight rain, Woods ripped off three straight birdies starting at No. 2 to push his score to 5 under at the Masters. He nearly made a hole-in-one at the par-3 fourth, his tee shot stopping less than a foot for the cup for a tap-in 2.
Woods wasn't the only one going low Saturday.
Ian Poulter and Rickie Fowler were both at 5 under for the round, while Rory McIlroy kept up his strong play from the back nine Friday by making an eagle at the second. All three of those players were at 4 under, still 10 shots behind leader Jordan Spieth but at least showing the course is ripe for some really low rounds.
Of course, Spieth has already shown what he can do in these conditions.
He set a 36-hole scoring with a 14-under 130, giving him a commanding lead going to the weekend.
Rickie Fowler surged up the leaderboard at the Masters on Saturday.
Fowler made five birdies on the first 11 holes, pushing his score to 4 under for the tournament, taking advantage of the conditions. The overnight rain that came through Augusta softened up the already birdie-friendly greens.
Of course, that still left him a daunting 10 strokes behind the leader, Jordan Spieth.
Fowler is used to contending at majors, though he has yet to win one. In 2014, he joined Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only golfers to finish in the top five of the Masters, the U.S. Open, the British Open and the PGA Championship in a single year.
Rory McIlroy also got off to a strong start, making an eagle at No. 2. He joined Fowler at 4 under overall.
After a stormy night, the sun broke through Saturday at Augusta National.
Steve Stricker was the first to tee off in the third round. Since an odd number of players made the cut, he's playing with a marker club member Jeff Knox, who's a pretty good player in his own right. Knox holds the club record for members with a 61 and last year, filling the same role, beat playing partner Rory McIlroy the world's top-ranked golfer by one stroke.
A splash of overnight rain kept the greens soft, which should allow players to keep attacking the pins like they did the first two days. No one performed better than Jordan Spieth, who has a five-stroke lead after breaking the Masters record for lowest 36-hole score with a 14-under 130.
He'll tee off with Charley Hoffman in the final group at 2:55 p.m. EDT. All but six players are at least 10 strokes behind Spieth, including McIlroy and Tiger Woods.
Among those with early tee times, Bae Sang-moon of South Korea and Henrik Stenson of Sweden were both at 3 under for the round, taking advantage of the soft conditions. In fact, 14 of the 25 players on the course are at par or better in the early going, though things are likely to toughen up through the afternoon especially if the wind picks up.
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