Spieth set to tie Tiger's mark

World No. 1 golfer Jordan Spieth during the third round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions on Jan 9, 2016 in Lahaina, Hawaii.
World No. 1 golfer Jordan Spieth during the third round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions on Jan 9, 2016 in Lahaina, Hawaii.PHOTO: AFP

His 5-shot lead in Hawaii puts him on course to win 7th PGA Tour title before turning 23

KAPALUA (Hawaii) • World No. 1 golfer Jordan Spieth is showing no sign of rust, closing with an eagle on Saturday to extend his lead to five shots at the USPGA Tour Tournament of Champions.

The 22-year-old Texan continued his brilliant putting in the third round, firing an eight-under 65 to reach 24-under 195 at the Plantation Course in Maui.

"I was glad to get that last putt into the hole to give me a confidence boost for tomorrow," he said. "This is as far under par as I have ever been after 54 holes."

He is well positioned for his seventh USPGA Tour title, which would equal the total that Tiger Woods achieved before turning 23.

Horton Smith, who won 14 times from 1928 to 1930, is the only other golfer to have more victories before that age.

READY TO ROLL

Nothing changes for tomorrow. We should have some good conditions so I have to go out and make some birdies.

JORDAN SPIETH, who is confident of holding off his rivals.

"Nothing changes for tomorrow," Spieth said. "We should have some good conditions so I have to go out and make some birdies."

Brooks Koepka is alone in second after shooting a 63 for 200. Defending champion Patrick Reed, who shot a 67, was third, six shots behind Spieth, while Brandt Snedeker (65) and Argentina's Fabian Gomez (70) were tied for fourth at 204.

Spieth begins 2016 on top of the rankings after winning five times, including two Majors, last year. The reigning US Open and Masters champion is making just his second start in this event after finishing runner-up two years ago.

He started the day with a four-stroke lead but that dwindled to just one on the back nine before he turned up the heat again. He finished with one eagle and seven birdies, including a stretch of four straight birdies on the front nine.

The only blemish in his round was a bogey on the par-three eighth - his first of the week. "There was some unbelievable golf played out in front of us considering the conditions were more difficult. There are still 18 holes to go," Spieth said.

Koepka birdied six straight holes beginning at the par-four No. 3. He was one shot back before Spieth holed a 46-foot birdie putt on the 12th hole and played the last eight holes in five under.

"Today was the day, perfect numbers, everything went my way," Koepka said. "I flushed it."

World No. 2 Jason Day, who returned to the course after a three-month break, was tied for 20th after shooting his best score of the week, a 69.

He said the time off was nice but he is ready to compete again and needs to play more rounds before he can get his confidence back.

"It is difficult getting back into it. I had a lot of bogeys," said the Australian, who became a father for the second time late last year.

"Not being sharp was my trouble this week. I am looking to improve and get the year under way."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2016, with the headline 'Spieth set to tie Tiger's mark'. Print Edition | Subscribe