Despite stumbling home on Saturday, Jordan Spieth still owns the top of the leaderboard at Augusta National Golf Club.
Spieth, the defending champion, finished bogey-double bogey to complete a 1-over-par 73 and will take a one-stroke lead over Smylie Kaufman into the final round of the 80th Masters in Augusta, Ga.
The 22-year-old Texan, who posted a 54-hole score of 3-under 213, has had sole possession of the lead after each of the last seven holes in the first men’s major of the season.
“Obviously, (the finish) wasn’t ideal,” said the second-ranked Spieth, who is trying to join Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Nick Faldo as the only players to win back-to-back Masters titles. “I was four shots ahead and wanted to finish par-par-par but just got wayward from there.
“But I’ve got to throw this away. I’m in the position I wanted to be, but I have to go out there tomorrow and figure everyone is tied and whoever plays the best will win.”
Kaufman, 24, whose only PGA Tour victory came in the 2015 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open when he posted a 61 in the final round, carded three bogeys in four holes through No. 16 and shot 69, the only round under 70 in the last two days at windy Augusta.
He will play in the final twosome with Spieth on Sunday.
“I’ve never been here before; it’s pretty cool,” Kaufman said when he was interviewed by Jim Nantz of CBS in Butler Cabin. “I’ve seen it before on TV, as a kid, and dreamed about being here. … I’m excited about the way I played today. I just kept my head down and kept plugging.
” … I played against Jordan in an AJGA event in Texas when we were kids. He was so good then and obviously he’s very good now.”
Bernhard Langer of Germany, 58, who won the Masters in 1983 and 1985, made three birdies in a row through No. 15 en route to a 70 playing alongside world No. 1 Jason Day of Australia.
The old guy was two shots back in a tie for third with Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, who took two late bogeys in a second straight 72.
Langer, who has won 26 times on the PGA Tour Champions, said it’s only a matter of time before a player from the senior circuit wins a major championship on the PGA Tour.
“I’ve been saying for some time that it’s going to happen,” said Langer, who tied for eighth in the Masters two years ago. “We have some players like Davis Love III, Vijay Singh and Fred Couples who can hit long enough off the tee to compete with the young guys in a major. I can’t, but I make up for it in other ways.
“It was as lot of fun playing with Jason today, especially on 15, where he made about a 70-foot putt and I chipped in on top of him. … And I ended with what was a pretty good bogey.
“I’m going to give it my best tomorrow. That’s all I can do.”
Day, the reigning PGA champion, had a 71 and was three strokes behind in a tie for fifth with Dustin Johnson and Danny Willett of England, who both came in at 72.
Lee Westwood of England, one of the best players without a major title, birdied four of the last seven holes and was another shot back in a tie for eighth with Brandt Snedeker and Soren Kjeldsen of Denmark, who both totaled 74.
Third-ranked Rory McIlroy, who can complete the career Grand Slam by winning the Masters, didn’t make a birdie in a 77 while playing alongside Spieth and was five shots back in a tie for 11th with Daniel Berger, the 2015 Rookie of the Year on the PGA Tour who had a 74.
Among the other pre-tournament favorites, Justin Rose of England was tied for 13th after a 73, Adam Scott of Australia was tied for 34th after a 75 and Henrik Stenson of Sweden was tied for 43rd after a 78.
Bryson DeChambeau, the reigning NCAA and U.S. Amateur champion who was one stroke out of the lead before finishing with a triple bogey-7 in round two, struggled to a 77 and was tied for 23rd.
–Story courtesy of The Sports Xchange, TSX Golf Editor Tom LaMarre