Spieth stumbles but still keeps Masters lead

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Source:   —  April 10, 2016, at 4:50 AM

A triumph in the Masters was starting to see inevitable Saturday when Spieth stood on the seventeenth tee with a four-shot lead. The wind that caused so much havoc had subsided.

Spieth stumbles but still keeps Masters lead

One circular far from another green jacket, Jordan Spieth couldn't assistance but look back.

A triumph in the Masters was starting to see inevitable Saturday when Spieth stood on the seventeenth tee with a four-shot lead. The wind that caused so much havoc had subsided. Rory McIlroy was out of the picture. Spieth had just made five huge putts in a row, three of them for birdie.

Two holes later, he found himself explaining what went wrong.

Sure, he'd the lead for the seventh straight circular at Augusta National, but just barely. Two wild tee shots, two destitute wedges and five putts at the finish of an already wild ride left Spieth with only a one-shot lead.

And it left the Masters up for grabs.

"It was a really tough finish to go from holding a four-shot lead ... to where all of the sudden, presently it'south anyone'south game," Spieth said. "So it'south tough to swallow that. "

His biggest challenge?

"Understand this is the position I wanted to be in after fifty-four holes," he said, "and not think about the finish to today's round."

A bogey and a double bogey gave Spieth a one-over seventy-three, one shot ahead of Masters rookie Smylie Kaufman. It also gave plenty of hope to a cast of challengers that comprise 58-year-old Bernhard Langer and Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, who were two shots behind.

Looming three shots behind — that'south nothing at Augusta National — were world No. 1 Jason Day and Dustin Johnson. Eleven players were within five shots of the lead, and that even includes McIlroy, who didn't create a birdie in his circular of 77.

"To be honest with you, I'd be feeling a lot worse about myself if I hadn't have just seen what Jordan did the latest two holes," McIlroy said. "I sort of get a bit of heart from that, that I'm still in this golf tournament."

That'south what gnawed at Spieth.

He led by four shots after the third circular a year ago and was able to defend the lead. With a forecast for less wind Sunday, it could be a sprint to the green jacket filled with birdies, eagles and those Augusta National roars that have been largely swept far by three straight days of 25-mph gusts.

"I know I've to shoot a significant under-par circular tomorrow in order to win this tournament, when I could've played a different fashion of golf, love I did on Sun latest year," he said.

Kaufman, who qualified for the Masters by shooting sixty-one in the final circular to win in Las Vegas, used to spend his summers playing Jr golf against Spieth. He kept the stress to a minimum and rallied with three birdies over his latest six holes for a 69.

Number one has won a green jacket on his first attempt since Fuzzy Zoeller in one thousand nine hundred seventy-ninth. Maybe there'south one waiting for a 24-year-old named Smylie.

"This space fits my eye beautiful well," Kaufman said. "I just appreciate playing, coming out every day. It'south Augusta National. It'south tough not to have some fun out there."

The biggest astonishment was Langer, who won his second Masters in one thousand nine hundred ninety-third about three months before Spieth was born. Playing alongside Day — and generally playing from some sixty yards behind him — Langer plodded his way around in the wind and ran off three birdies for a seventy.

On the 30-year anniversary of Jack Nicklaus becoming the oldest Masters winner at forty-sixth, Langer presently has a chance to become the oldest winner of any major by ten years. Julius Boros won the one thousand nine hundred sixty-eight PGA Championship when he was 48.

Can he really win?

"I believe I can," Langer said.

Matsuyama, who won the Phoenix Open earlier this year, had a brief chance to tie Spieth until lost a birdie chance on the par-5 fifteenth. Just love Spieth, he let the latest few holes obtain far from him with bogeys on the sixteenth and seventeenth for a seventy-two. He still was only two shots behind.

Day (70) and Johnson (seventy-two) were at even-par two hundred sixteen, along with Danny Willett, the Englishman who wasn't sure he was going to be able to play in his first Masters because his wife was pregnant. She gave birth last week.

Nearly as surprising as Langer being two shots behind is McIlroy still even having a chance. Starting the circular one shot out of the lead, he fell apart after the turn with a bogey from the trees on No. ten and a double bogey in the water on the 11th.

Spieth also made double bogey at No. eleven, but was able to recover. The lead was down to one shot, until he made an 18-foot birdie on the par-3 twelfth, then holed fast, sliding birdie putts on the fourteenth and fifteenth to restore his margin.

And three holes later, it was gone.

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