Spieth stays top at Masters despite late stumble
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...