While most of the county has been falling in love with Jordan Spieth’s golf game, he showed Saturday that his supposedly large lead was not safe enough to guarantee a victory on Sunday. He made enough mistakes to let his margin of six, and for a time seven, to slip to four. But even with the errors, he posted the lowest 54-hole score in Masters history, 16 under par.
However, during the round, Spieth was at 18 under par, the lowest score relative to par in Masters history. Only one other golfer has been that low: Tiger Woods.
But as quickly as Spieth got there, he made mistakes or succumbed to the pressure. We will never know which.
What we do know is Spieth’s Saturday round was his highest score of the week so far, a 70, and was peppered with a few bogeys and one particularly unfortunately double at the 17th. Without those mistakes, he would have slammed the door on the field. Now at least three have a chance.
Of those on the leaderboard, Justin Rose at 12-under, Phil Mickelson at 11-under and Charley Hoffman, at 10-under par, could unseat Spieth should he have a blip during the final round.
Should Spieth experience a total meltdown, which is unlikely given his composure, it would bring in those who are six under par. That group, excitingly enough, includes Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, who are playing together, as well as Dustin Johnson, Kevin Na and Kevin Streelman. It also means McIlroy’s chances for a career Grand Slam may not be over after all.
No one knows better than he does what it is like to start the back nine on Sunday with a big lead.
So far, Spieth’s chipping and putting are the envy of nearly every professional and certainly of every amateur. Only NBC’s Johnny Miller has had anything critical to say about Spieth’s game. That came during the Sunday round of the Shell Houston Open when Spieth was on the 18th tee.
“He has a tendency under pressure when he bends that left arm on the backswing to lock up and hit it right," Miller said. "We’ll see if he can release it.”
Spieth proceeded to hit the ball into the right rough off the tee. He bogeyed the last hole to fall into a playoff, which was won by J.B. Holmes. Was it caused by pressure as Miller suggested?
Saurday, Spieth’s tee shot at the 13th went right. His second shot on the 10th went right, as did the second shot on the eighth and second.
Is Miller on to something? Is this swing move, this arm bend that Miller observed, Spieth’s Kryptonite?
Saturday at the Masters, Speith’s second shot on the 18th went right. Pressure? No doubt there was pressure. Was it caused by what Miller suggested is a swing issue? Was it just a timing problem? Miller will have to weigh in on that.
However, the bottom line is that Spieth overcame the error with a miracle par, getting up and down from an impossible location right of the 18th green. He said the putt for par was one of the biggest of his life. It may well turn out to be true, particularly if he wins the Masters by a shot.
Kathy Bissell is a Golf Writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand or from official interview materials from the USGA, PGA Tour or PGA of America.