Spieth stays top at Masters despite late stumble

Sat Apr 9, 2016 8:56pm EDT
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By Steve Keating

AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - Jordan Spieth withstood heavy winds and even stiffer challenges to remain atop the Masters leaderboard, and will take a one-shot lead into Sunday's final round as he bids to complete a successful defense of his Green Jacket.

The 22-year-old Texan has now held the outright lead for a record seven consecutive rounds and if he can hold on for one more day will join Tiger Woods, Nick Faldo and Jack Nicklaus as the only men to claim back-to-back Masters wins.

Spieth, who began the third round with a one-shot advantage, ended it in the same position after a wild afternoon at a windswept Augusta National, carding a one-over 73 that featured two double-bogeys on the back nine, including one at the 18th.

An 80th Masters that had looked ready to turn into a coronation with Spieth holding a four-stroke edge with two to play but will instead be up for grabs with an eclectic mix of challengers, including a Masters debutant, a 58-year-old former champion and a 24-year-old Japanese sensation all lurking.

American rookie Smylie Kaufman, who still lives with his parents, had the lowest round of the day, returning a three-under 69 to join Spieth in an unlikely final pairing.

"That wasn't a fun last couple holes to play from the position I was in," said Spieth, who also had a bogey at 17 to surrender three shots over his last two holes.

"It's not going to be fun tonight for a little while, and hopefully I just sleep it off and it's fine tomorrow. I imagine that will be the case. It was tough."

Sitting two off the pace is evergreen German Bernhard Langer, a two-time Masters winner who showed he still knows how to get around a tricky Augusta layout, carding a two-under 70, and Hideki Matsuyama, playing in his fifth Masters, who had 72.   Continued...

Apr 8, 2016; Augusta, GA, USA; Jordan Spieth hits his tee shot on the 18th hole during the second round of the 2016 The Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports