SOUTHPORT (AFP) - Jordan Spieth is hoping he can use the bitter experience of his collapse in the Masters at Augusta last year to his advantage when he goes into the final round of the British Open on Sunday.
He shot a bogey-free 65 in the third round on Saturday at Royal Birkdale - his third consecutive round in the 60s - to sit at 11 under par for the championship and lead by three strokes from his fellow American Matt Kuchar.
At the age of 23, he seems poised to win a third Major following his victories at the 2015 Masters and US Open, but he knows all too well what can happen if the nerves become too much on the final day.
Last year, Spieth led by five shots as he approached the 10th hole in the final round of the Masters, only to dramatically drop six shots in three holes and eventually lose to England's Danny Willett.
"Absolutely. I think I'm in a position where it can be very advantageous, just everything I've gone through, the good, the bad, and everything in the middle," said the Texan world No. 3 when asked if he would embrace the memories of that collapse on Sunday afternoon.
"I understand that leads can be squandered quickly, and I also understand how you can keep on rolling on one. So it was a humbling experience that I thought at the time could serve me well going forward.
"And if I don't win tomorrow (Sunday), it has nothing to do with that. It has to do with it was someone else's day, and I didn't play as well as I should have. And if I win tomorrow it has nothing to do with that, either.
"It will be a day that will be emotionally draining and difficult to stay very neutral in the head, but that's probably the most important thing for me to do."
A win on Sunday would see Spieth follow in the footsteps of the great Jack Nicklaus by getting three-quarters of the way to a Grand Slam in the Majors before his 24th birthday.
Spieth's 54-hole total score of 199 is just one shot shy of the British Open record held by Tom Lehman when he went on to win at Royal Lytham and St Annes, just up the north-west English coast, in 1996.
With his playing partner Kuchar three shots back, and Austin Connelly and Brooks Koepka six adrift in a tie for third, Spieth is in a golden position to emulate Lehman.
He arrived at Birkdale having failed to finish higher than 11th in any of his last five Major appearances, but a victory in the Travelers Championship on the PGA Tour in Connecticut last month set him up nicely.
"I thought Hartford was big. I was able to win feeling really poorly with the putter and that's never happened before. And being able to do that gave me confidence, and then I had a lot of rest. I just feel rested," he said.
"I've been through this experience a lot. And I know how draining it can be and how important it is to conserve energy. And that's the plan going into tomorrow."