PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Jordan Spieth wanted another chance to contend at a big tournament after coming in second at this year’s Masters Tournament. He didn’t have to wait long for that opportunity. He’s tied for the third-round lead at THE PLAYERS Championship with Martin Kaymer.
The pair is at 12-under 204 and will play together in the final twosome for the second consecutive day.
“I’m very excited,” Spieth, 20, said. “This is a position I wanted to get into in another big tournament. Augusta left me feeling a little hungry for it again, and here we are.”
Spieth stayed in contention with a tremendous scrambling display over the final six holes.
His tee shot at the par-3 13th was well short and right of his target, but his chip shot struck the pin, setting up an easy par. His sent his tee shot at the next hole into uncharted territory right of the fairway. With the ball well below his feet in the rough, he hit hybrid into a greenside bunker and got up-and-down. He called the second shot his best of the week.
His tee shot at the next hole found the left rough. A drop from a sprinkler head gave him a clearer line to the green, allowing him to hit a 52-degree wedge to the green instead of trying to roll a punch shot onto the putting surface.
His tee shot at No. 16 also went left, forcing him to lay up on the short par-5. His third shot sailed over the green, but he got up-and-down again. He was in trees right of the 18th fairway and had to punch out. His chip shot ran through green, but he holed a 13-foot putt from the fringe.
“He just finds a way to get it in the hole,” his caddie, Michael Greller, said. “It may not always be pretty.”
Spieth is still bogey-free at THE PLAYERS, making one birdie and 17 pars Saturday. His last bogey came at the third hole in the final round of the RBC Heritage.
“It requires good short putting, a good feel around the greens, good lies and good bounces, a mix of all that,” he said about his bogey-free streak.
ROAD GAME: Martin Kaymer has held at least a share of the lead in each of THE PLAYERS Championship’s first three rounds. A bogey at No. 18 dropped him into a tie with Jordan Spieth with one round remaining.
Kaymer, who is seeking his first official PGA TOUR victory since the 2010 PGA Championship, made two birdies and two bogeys in Saturday’s 72. Spieth and Kaymer combined for just three birdies Saturday.
Kaymer will have to overcome a partisan crowd that has clearly thrown its support behind Spieth, the young American.
“It was difficult today,” Kaymer said. “It felt a bit like a Ryder Cup match, but we didn’t play in Europe, obviously. “When you’re trying to win a big tournament, usually you play them in America, so I’m always a foreigner. It’s a good challenge.
Martin Kaymer: "Jordan deserves all the attention on him. Plus, if it makes it more quiet for me, I'll take it." #PGATOUR— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 10, 2014
PHOTO GALLERY: Click below to see our favorite images from Saturday's third round at TPC Sawgrass.
CALL OF THE DAY: Dennis Paulson of PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.COM calls Jordan Spieth's par save on the 18th hole at TPC Sawgrass during Round 3 of THE PLAYERS Championship.
Final-round coverage from TPC Sawgrass streams on PGATOUR.COM on Sunday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET.
RIDING HIGH: It was a par putt on a Saturday, but it still elicited an emotional reaction from Sergio Garcia. He had to make a 6-foot par putt on No. 18 to avoid back-to-back three-putts and stay in a tie for third with John Senden at 9-under 207, three shots behind Spieth and Kaymer. Senden won this year’s Valspar Championship.
“I think it was a big moment ‑‑ I'm not going to say for tomorrow, but for tonight. So I don't go home ‑‑ even though I still would have been happy with 70, to finish bogey, bogey, hitting good shots, it would have felt, dinner would have tasted quite horrible,” Garcia said. “So I guess that's probably one of the reasons why it was nice to make it. It's a tough putt too, that one on 18.”
Garcia, the 2008 THE PLAYERS winner, hit his tee shot at the par-3 17th to 24 feet but missed a par putt of less than 3 feet. Garcia shot 69 on Saturday.
“Every time I play I try to show what I am and how I am and, obviously, when you are in contention, it comes out a little bit even more,” he said.
Great Saturday on difficult conditions! The par putt on 18 felt so good! Muy buen sábado en condiciones difíciles! El putt del 18 tremendo!— Sergio Garcia (@TheSergioGarcia) May 10, 2014
WORLD NO. 1 WATCH: Four players started the week with an opportunity to become No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking. All four made the cut. Here’s how they stand with one round remaining:
Place Name Score Finish needed T14 Bubba Watson
69-72-70 Solo 2nd T14 Matt Kuchar
71-71-69 Win T14 Henrik Stenson
71-70-70 Top 6 T28 Adam Scott 77-67-69 Top 16
TOUGH FINISH: A two-stroke penalty on the final hole dropped Justin Rose from 7 under to 5 under. Rose was penalized after his ball moved while preparing to chip from behind the 18th green.
“That was a bitter pill to swallow at the end of a battling day,” Rose said. “In some ways, it is my own fault for trying to be my own rules official.”
Rose was uncertain if his ball moved after he addressed his chip shot. After watching the replay on a large electronic screen by the 18th green, Rose and fellow competitor Sergio Garcia decided Rose’s ball had not moved. Rules officials and Rose watched replay after his round, and it was determined that Rose’ ball had moved slightly. He was penalized one shot for his ball moving and another shot for not replacing it. The two-stroke penalty resulted in a double-bogey on the final hole and a 1-over 73. He is T13 at 5 under.
“Under 50-times magnification in the truck, maybe the ball moved a quarter of a dimple toward the toe of the club,” he said.
LOW ROUNDS THIS WEEK
Round Low score Player(s) 1 63 Martin Kaymer 2 66 Jordan Spieth 3 67 Francesco Molinari, Ryan Moore, Brandt Snedeker
ODDS AND ENDS
These guys are dry. Only 1 ball of 76 players in H20 on No. 17 Saturday @THEPLAYERSChamp. Record low since 2003 is 3 in R3 in 2003.— PGA TOUR Media (@PGATOURmedia) May 10, 2014
Jeff Overton's 10 on No. 11 all-time high score at the par-5.— PGA TOUR Media (@PGATOURmedia) May 10, 2014
• Prior to this week, Martin Kaymer has never held a 54-hole lead on the PGA TOUR.
• Spieth remains the only player without a bogey through 54 holes with a streak of 69 consecutive bogey-free holes dating back to the fourth hole of the final round of the RBC Heritage. The last player to win with 72 bogey-free holes was Lee Trevino at the 1974 Greater New Orleans Open. Greg Norman (1994) is the only other player in PLAYERS Championship history without a bogey through 54 holes – he bogeyed No. 13 in the final round for his lone bogey of the week as he won by four strokes over Fuzzy Zoeller.
• After just two eagles on No. 7 in the last 32 years at TPC Sawgrass, there was an eagle-2 for the second time in two days during Saturday’s third round. One day after Charlie Wi’s eagle on No. 7, Stewart Cink holed out from 139 yards with a pitching wedge.
Rd. 3 leader
Bubba Watson (312.5 yards)
Bubba Watson (307.2)
Daniel Summerhays (14 of 14)
Justin Leonard (34 of 42)
Greens in regulation
D. Johnson, F. Molinari (15 of 18)
J. Hicks, D. Johnson, M. Kaymer, F. Molinari, J. Senden (41 of 54)
Morgan Hoffmann (3.41)
Russell Henley (1.64 per round)
R. McIlroy, B. Stuard, B. Watson (7)
S. Garcia, Z. Johnson, R. McIlroy (17)
THEY SAID IT
“Here, I see less shots. I see, in my head, I have everything a bit more clear of what I want to do.” – Sergio Garcia, on why he has success at TPC Sawgrass, because it is easier for him to visualize the appropriate shot.
“These bigger and better events, the major championships, this week at THE PLAYERS, we have to really dig deep to get it done here. It’s a much different feeling.” – John Senden, who is T3 at 9-under 207.