Don’t blame Jordan Spieth if he is a little cranky after Saturday’s third round of the Masters.
Spieth nearly gave up a four-shot lead with two holes to play, but still leads at Augusta National by one shot over Smylie Kaufman.
“I’m probably going to go break something,” Spieth said jokingly after his 1-over 73, a round that has him on the doorstep of his second consecutive Masters championship.
But it could have been a wider margin. Spieth led by four strokes when he stepped to the 17th tee box. But a bogey on 17, followed by a double bogey on 18, trimmed the lead to a single shot over Kaufman and two over Bernhard Langer and Hideki Matsuyama.
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Spieth now has two over-par rounds after opening with a six-under 66. But with gusty winds making every shot a challenge and drying out Augusta National’s already treacherous greens, Spieth was generally satisfied. If not for those final two holes.
Kaufman, who played at Louisiana State and turned pro in 2014, was all smiles after his round, one that lands him in Sunday’s final pairing with Spieth. Kaufman birdied No. 14 and No. 16 to move into second place, then watched as Spieth allowed him to get closer at the end of the day.
“I’m just kind of going with the flow and just going to try to play golf and just do the same thing I’ve been doing,” said Kaufman, who won the Shriners Hospital For Children Open in Las Vegas, earlier this season. “Try to keep to the same routine, talk out shots like I’ve been talking out shots.”
Three who mattered
Jordan Spieth: Despite problems on Nos. 17 and 18, it’s now seven consecutive rounds – and counting – that he has led the Masters.
Smylie Kaufman: Former Louisiana State star is alone in second place heading into the final round of his first Masters.
Bernhard Langer: Two-time Masters winner revives some past glory with 2-under 70.
▪ Rory McIlroy played in the final group with Spieth and never got going. He had a birdie-less 5-over 77 and is five behind Spieth.
“It was just one of those days, you just have to move on,” said McIlroy. “To be honest with you, I’d feel worse if I hadn’t just seen what Jordan did on the last two holes.”
▪ Amateur Bryson DeChambeau will have nightmares about the 18th hole. After a triple bogey in the second round, he double-bogeyed it Saturday. DeChambeau had a 77 Saturday and is tied for 23rd.
▪ Billy Horschel had some absolutely miserable luck on the 15th green. As Horschel prepared to mark his ball before what would be a short eagle putt, a gust of wind came up and blew it down the green and into the water.
Horschel had to take a drop from in front of the green and was assessed a penalty shot. What might have been an eagle turned into a bogey.
“(It was an) unfortunate situation, bad luck,” said Horschel. “But I know the golfing gods, I think they owe me one, hopefully … it comes Sunday or in the weeks that follow.”
▪ World No. 1 Jason Day played his way back into contention with a 1-under 71. He’s just two shots behind Spieth.
“The last three days have been really tough,” Day said. “That’s what I’ve been trying to do for the most part, just trying to stay patient.”
They said it
“Today was my bad day.” – McIlroy.
“LSU football is one of the most painful things to watch ever, really.” – Kaufman, after being asked to compare the stress of playing in the Masters with watching a Tigers football game.