The 21-year-old American will take a four-shot lead into Sunday’s final round after holding off the challenge of some of the biggest names in the game while also rebounding from a double-bogey at the 17th with a gutsy par save at the last.
Spieth got up and down from a tricky lie to the right of the green at the 18th, hitting a flop shot nine feet past the hole and nervelessly sinking the putt for a two-under 70 on a steamy Saturday afternoon.
“It was huge,” the Texan said of his par save after finishing up with a Masters record total of 16-under 200 after 54 holes. “Just to see one go in after the disappointment there on 17 where I probably should have hit three-wood off the tee.”
Spieth, who tied for second at last year’s Masters, had been seven strokes clear after sinking a 14-foot birdie putt at the par-three 16th but rued his decision to take driver off the tee at the 17th where his ball ended up way left in the treeline.
After hitting his second shot short and right of the green, he faced a very difficult chip from a downhill lie into the grain which he left just short of the putting surface, from where he three-putted for a double.
“We knew 17 was a par hole, driver should never have come out of my bag at that point,” said Spieth.
“Not that I’m playing any differently than if I were tied or behind, but it’s a downwind hole.
“I was getting a little erratic with the driver and I can hit three-wood, eight-iron in there and have a 20-footer to two-putt. I was very frustrated with that decision, given I don’t want decision making to ever cost me in an event like this.”
Overall, though, Spieth has produced brilliant golf as he remained in control despite impressive 67s from Justin Rose and Phil Mickelson, and 68s from Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.
“When I got out there today and saw a couple putts go in, I felt really comfortable,” said Spieth.
“That’s something in the weekend under pressure that’s kind of hurt me a little bit, but recently I’ve been making a lot of putts.
“Maybe I got a little anxious at times today, but all in all I kept it together with the putter.” – Reuters
Original source: Spieth faces one last Masters test