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Spieth stutters but still has destiny in his hands

By: Golf Shake | Sun 12 Apr 2015

Sports Writer Derek Clements reports on day 3 of the Masters which saw McIlroy, Woods & Mickleson all make a charge but Jordan Spieth still heads into the final day with a 4 shot lead over Justin Rose.

TIGER WOODS called on the powers-that-be at Augusta to make the course tougher for the final two rounds. The organising committee were pretty sure that they had done so. They reckoned without Jordan Spieth who marched on in imperious fashion, closing in on what will surely be the first of many majors.

He had already set a 36-hole scoring record of 130, 14 under par. And after an up and down front nine, he moved back into top gear before a late wobble. He finished the third round four shots ahead of Justin Rose and his 16-under-pat total of 200 is another record.

Woods, Rory McIlroy and many of the others left in Spieth's wake said they needed to produce something special on day three if they were to have have hope of reeling him in. He started the day with a five-shot lead, remember, and increased that to six with a birdie on the second.

Elsewhere, Woods, McIlroy and Phil Mickelson were doing their best to catch him. McIlroy eagled the second and birdied the eighth and ninth to be out in 32. Further birdies came at the 13th and 15th, by which point he was eight under par.

Woods went on a charge that was just like the good old days. He birdied the second, third, fourth and eighth and picked up another at the 13th and, incredibly he was seven under par. Then came the 14th, where he duffed his drive. Yes, duffed his drive. He did well to drop just one shot. Woods eventually finished on six under after a 68 - a score and total that was matched by McIlroy. Woods is on his way back, but remains a work in progress.


And then there was Mickelson. After a wretched 15 months or so, and a Ryder Cup when he embarrassed both himself and his teammates by criticisng Tom Watson, his captain, about his tactics at Gleneagles - with Watson sitting alongside him on stage, not 12 feet away.

Some may feel that his continuing struggles have been golf's way of giving him his comeuppance. But the golfing gods may just have decided that he has suffered enough. During large parts of the third rounds, he was sensational. The left-hander began the day eight shots adrift. By the time he reached the turn, he was just four behind. And it had nothing to do with the wheels coming off Spieth wagon.

Lefty  set off like an express train. Birdies came at the second, third and fourth. And another at the 10th. The problem with this express train is that it has a tendency to come off the rails, and a dropped shot at the 11th reminded him of the special puzzle that Augusta is.

Spieth, meanwhile, had taken his foot off the pedal. He birdied the second, sixth and ninth, but also dropped shots at the fourth and seventh, only his second and third bogeys of the week. He remained five ahead of the estimable Charley Hoffman, sticking to him like glue. He even had the temerity to hole a huge putt at the 11th and move to 11 under - Spieth was five in front again with a birdie at the 12th. Anything you can do, I can do better.

Another one followed at the 13th. Seventeen under and six ahead. MIckelson, meanwhile, had gone back to 10 under with a birdie at the 13th. And he wasn't finished yet. He got up and down for a birdie at the par-five 15th and holed an outrageous putt across the 16th green. Incredibly, Mickelson had progressed to 12 under and with Spieth letting one slip on 14, the man everybody loves to love was four behind. This was turning out to be another incredible day.

And it wasn't over, not by a long shot. Although Paul Casey slipped back, Justin Rose got the bit between his teeth after another poor start. Birdies at the 13th, 14th and 15th moved him to 10 under and then he holed a bunker shot for another at the 16th. He was playing with Dustin Johnson and although the American was bombing it 30 and 40 yards past him, Rose was three ahead.

Time to pause for breath? Don't be silly. Spieth's birdie on the 16th meant he was an astonishing 17 under par. Hoffman went into the water on the same hole and when Mickelson three-putted the 17th the young tyro was six  in front again. And guess what? It was seven when he birdied the 16th after holing another 10-foot putt.

Those golfing gods can be fickle, however, adn decided to give the youngster a taste of his own medicine at the 17th. He drove into the trees, left his second short, fluffed his chip and three-putted for a double-bogey six. But he produced a stupendous up-and-down at the 18th to save par.

Mickelson parred the 18th for a 67. He is 11 under par, but it is Justin Rose who will be partnering him in the final round after holing a wondrous birdie putt on the 18th for another 67 and with Spieth's wobble at the 17th the Englishman will believe he can make up the four-shot deficit.

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Tags: tiger woods Masters Jordan Spieth

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