• Says Langer is a 'force to be reckoned with'
• Rory - 'I've got nothing to lose.'
THE MASTERS | Third Round
Jordan Spieth called it. Yesterday he said he didn’t want calm conditions and less wind for the third round. He wanted it to stay tough. “I like this better,” he said.
Maybe he didn't mean this tough.
Spieth coughed up a one-over 73 that gave him the Masters lead for the seventh consecutive round. But he stumbled late on dropping three shots in his last two holes to fall back to the field.
The defending champion started the day with a one stroke advantage over Rory McIlroy and finished the day five ahead after the Northern Irish golfer once again found trouble on Augusta’s tenth hole, carding a bogey after coming unstuck behind a tree. At one point Spieth had stretched his lead over McIlroy to eight.
McIlroy looked a forlorn figure at times as he again saw his challenge at Augusta falter. He said yesterday that the course “owed” him something. Today it gave him nothing. He had zero birdies all day.
"Just one of those days," said McIlroy. "You have to try to forget about it and move on. To be honest with you, I would be feeling a lot worse about myself if I hadn't have just seen what Jordan did the last two holes. I sort of take a bit of heart from that, that I'm still in this golf tournament."
He added: "I just need to go out there tomorrow and be aggressive. I've got nothing to lose."
Spieth will play with the brilliantly named Smylie Kaufman, who said his friends this week were joyfully taking advantage of the generous prices on beer at Augusta National. Kaufman held condition WebTour.com status this time last year but will play in the final group. “I’m just kind of going with the flow,” said the 24-year-old. “This place fits my eye pretty well. I just enjoy playing, coming out every day. It’s Augusta National, it’s hard not to have some fun out there.”
"It was tough." - Jordan Spieth
Spieth admitted it was a “really tough finish" to his third round, referring to the fact that he has played the last three holes in a combined five-over all week. “There’s no real challenge in those holes,” he said. “You should hit those greens in regulation. It wasn’t a lot of fun playing those last two holes. It was tough. I certainly felt better last year on the Saturday night with a four-shot lead.”
He added: “All of a sudden it’s anyone’s game. I’m in the lead after 54 holes and if you’d told me that at the beginning of the week I’d be pleased. But it’s mixed feelings right now. With little wind tomorrow, someone gets on a run, I know I have to shoot a significant under par round to win this tournament.”
Two back from Spieth is two-time Masters champion Bernhard Langer, who went round Augusta National in two-under 70, and the defending champion Spieth said he’s not even thinking about the German’s age, but rather his ability.
“I saw that he was a couple under through his first six seven holes, as I was trying to get a feel for the scores. I think it’s incredible. Doesn’t he win most every tournament on the Champions Tour? He’s a force to be reckoned with."
Jordan Spieth - 'It's cool what he's done'
Spieth added: “You can’t think of his age - he’s just another competitor tomorrow who is fully capable of winning this tournament. I have to expect that he’ll come back and be strong. It’s cool what he’s done. I find it hard to say it’s surprising.”