Spieth facing "tough time" in bid to defend Masters crown

Sport360 staff 07:49 10/04/2016
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Spieth (r) is in danger of losing his title.

Spieth held a four-shot lead with two holes to play on a windswept day at Augusta National, but bogeyed the 17th and double bogeyed the 18th after wild drives to card a 73 and finish three under par, just a shot ahead of fellow American Smylie Kaufman.

”I just have to absolutely throw it away, the finish to this round, pretend it’s a new round, everyone is tied and you have to shoot the best score to win,” said Spieth, who is aiming to become the fourth player after Jack Nicklaus, Sir Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods to win back-to-back titles.

“(I have to) understand it’s the position I wanted to be in after 54 holes and not think about the finish to this round.’ It’s going to be very difficult. I played the last three holes, the last two days, five over par. There was no challenge in those holes really.

“If I’m at five, six under, that certainly brings anyone who is over par almost out of the tournament. And now with very little wind (on Sunday), someone gets on a run and shoots six, seven under, I know I have to shoot a significant under par round in order to win this tournament, when I could have played a different style of golf like I did on Sunday last year.”

Asked how he would clear his head, Spieth joked: “Probably go break something really quick, have dinner and watch a movie. I think it will be tough personally. That wasn’t a fun last couple holes to play from the position I was in.

“I certainly felt better last year on Saturday night than I do right now. I had a four-shot lead and everything was going right. But at the same time, I feel that if I can get to the range, I straighten the ball out tomorrow, I get back to the same routine I was just in, I certainly think that down the stretch I’m better prepared now than I was at this point last year.”

Kaufman’s 69 was the only sub-70 round since Thursday and secured his place in the final group with Spieth, whom he played against in junior and amateur golf – without much success.

“He’s probably 1000-0,” said the 24-year-old, who still lives with his parents despite carding a closing 61 to win his maiden PGA Tour title last year. “He’s always beating me. Granted, he was so much better than I was as a junior and amateur. I was kind of a late bloomer in that regard. Just kind of kept on getting better.

“As soon as I realised my potential, I really started to improve and just sort of absorbed information as I went and stuck to a plan and just stayed committed to it and worked really hard at that plan.”

Asked if he was surprised to be in contention on his Masters debut, Kaufman added: “Not really. The golf course plays really hard. I tend to play well on hard golf courses.

“I’m driving the ball really well right now and if I’m going to get on the greens just as much as everybody else, I think that I’ll have a pretty good opportunity to be in contention, which it doesn’t surprise me.”

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