Jordan Spieth admitted he will struggle to eliminate a bad finish to day three from his mind, despite the defending champion taking a one-stroke lead into the final round of the Masters.
Spieth held a four-shot advantage with two third-round holes to play but proceeded to finish bogey, double bogey to afford some hope to an earlier browbeaten field. Heading into the final day, 14 players are within six of his three-under-par 213.
“It is going to be very difficult,” said Spieth of the mental challenge. “I have played those last three holes five over par in two days and there is no challenge in those holes, for me. They are not the hard holes out here. With very little wind tomorrow, someone could shoot six or seven under and I’m going to have to play a very different style of golf now.”
Smylie Kaufman, on his Masters debut, is the surprising name in second place. The identity of one of the two players tied third at minus one is even more of a shock: Bernhard Langer. The 58-year-old won the last of his two Masters in 1993. Spieth branded Langer’s performance thus far “incredible”.
When asked whether he could claim a Green Jacket again, Langer exuded confidence. “I believe I can,” said the German after his third round of 70. “It would be one for the old guys.
“If I play my best, I can shoot four or five under tomorrow, I think. But so can Jordan Spieth or any of the others on the leaderboard, so it all depends how the rest of the other 15 or 20 guys in contention do.
“I can only play my game and see how that holds up. In this game of golf, things are a little different. We’re not playing tennis or football where it all comes down to speed and strength. Golf is a lot more about knowing yourself and technique, just thinking your way around the golf course and then execution.”
Rory McIlroy failed to record a single birdie in his 77, which moved the four-times major winner back to two over par and from second to a share of 11th. “I need to regroup, stay positive and go out and attack tomorrow,” said McIlroy. “I think it’s winnable from here.”
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