Spieth finishes with flurry, notches best round at Players
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Jordan Spieth finished with a flurry, leading to his best score at The Players Championship in 13 rounds.
Hardly anyone noticed.
Fan favorite Tiger Woods garnered most , if not all, the attention while Spieth was shooting a 7-under 65 in the third round Saturday. Woods and Spieth, playing a few groups apart, tied for the lowest score of the day.
Both made huge leaps up the leaderboard, although more people witnessed Woods’ run.
Woods did most of his damage on the front nine. Spieth made his move on the back with six birdies, including at each of the final three holes. Spieth needed just 24 putts to get around the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass.
“If you don’t miss a putt inside of 15 feet, golf is pretty easy,” Spieth quipped. “But when you are making half of them, like I was the first round, then it’s a harder game. So I felt like I had the freedom in the stroke. I didn’t feel like I had to force anything. You ask, ‘Why don’t you do that all the time?’ It’s just not the case. You have to get to where you’re comfortable at setup.
“I didn’t have to worry about that for 10, 12 years. But the last year or so, it had gotten off with my eyes. I’m on the right path now.”
Spieth is 8 under will be paired with Woods in the final round Sunday. They will start 11 shots behind leader Webb Simpson, giving Spieth a stress-free final round reminiscent of the Masters.
The 24-year-old Texan turned in one of the greatest closing rounds in Masters history last month, shooting an 8-under 64 that pushed him into the mix after he started the day a daunting nine shots behind Patrick Reed. Spieth briefly grabbed a share of the lead on the back nine, but his hopes ended at the 18th after his tee shot clipped a tree. He pulled off two dazzling shots to give himself a shot at saving par, but his 8-foot putt slid by the edge of hole for his only bogey of the day.
He will need something comparable to get to Simpson.
“My game is actually in a really good place right now,” Spieth said. “Once I kind of get this putting setup there, I’m ready to win golf tournaments. I’m as good tee to green as I’ve been ever, this year, it’s just a matter of knocking in 6 to 20 footers and starting to get closer to that.”
Lucas Glover went from just off the lead in the opening round to missing the final 18 holes.
Glover was one of nine players cut after 54 holes Saturday. Glover shot a 6-over 78 in the third round, nullifying two rounds below par (68-71). Glover was two shot behind Simpson after the first round.
Others cut: Brian Gay, Tom Hoge, Zach Johnson, Ollie Schniederjans, Ryan Blaum, Keith Mitchell, Nick Taylor and Brendan Steele.
Danny Lee would have had at least a share of the 54-hole lead in just about any other year at The Players. This year, he’s a distant second.
Lee shot a 2-under 70 in the third round and trails Simpson by seven strokes heading into Sunday.
“I’m going to just keep my hat down and play my game,” Lee said.
Lee played bogey-free golf — Justin Thomas was the only other one to do so Saturday — in windy conditions in the afternoon.
“It was a good solid round,” Lee said. “It was very windy out there. It got really windy out there in the afternoon, and it wasn’t anything like the morning guys’ golf in the afternoon. I managed to stay very patient out there.”
Ian Poulter was seething as he walked off the 18th green Saturday. Several minutes later, the Englishman was still shaking his head in disgust while talking about making a double bogey at the par-4 finishing hole.
“That water is going to taste like acid in a minute when I finally have a drink,” Poulter said. “I’m raging right now. Not happy. Extremely disappointing from the position I was in on 18. I couldn’t imagine if I would have had 50 attempts again from where I was where I would make double, but I managed to do it right there, so it’s a shame.”
Poulter’s approach shot from the right rough landed in a greenside bunker. He needed two strokes to get out and then missed a 7-foot bogey putt.
Instead of heading into the final round at 10 under, Poulter ended up 8 under.
“I was in the position I needed to be in to have a realistic go probably of catching (the leaders Sunday),” he said.
The par-4 14th played tougher than any other hole in the third round. The 485-yard hole yielded just one birdie, with Jhonattan Vegas sinking a 20-footer.
The famed par-3 17th played considerably easier than it did in the first two rounds. Only six balls ended up in the murky water surrounding the island green, a much lower percentage than the 24 water balls in the opening round and the 21 in the second round.
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