Spieth strikes back just in time

Jordan Spieth of the United States celebrates a par save on the 16th green during the final round of the TOUR Championship By Coca-Cola at East Lake Golf Club on Sept 27, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Jordan Spieth of the United States celebrates a par save on the 16th green during the final round of the TOUR Championship By Coca-Cola at East Lake Golf Club on Sept 27, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. PHOTO: AFP

American regains form as one-stroke lead in Tour C'ship edges him closer to $14m jackpot

ATLANTA • Jordan Spieth experienced a slight lull to his sensational season in the last month. But he had major feelings about a big finish at the Tour Championship and the US$10 million (S$14 million) FedExCup prize on Saturday.

"No matter what, it's a dream-come-true season. Two Majors, a couple other wins, and what we have been able to do consistently this year, that's a huge step up from anything I've ever done," said the 22-year-old American.

After shooting a two-under 68 in the third round at East Lake, he had a one-shot lead over Henrik Stenson.

"So I don't need tomorrow to justify it. But I'm not going to sit here and say US$10 million doesn't mean anything to me because it does," Spieth added.

He has already collected more than US$10.5 million in Tour earnings this season. He won four titles this year, including the Masters and US Open for his first two Majors.

Spieth went quiet just as Jason Day caught fire.

The Australian won four of his past six tournaments while Spieth missed the cut at the first two FedExCup play-off events. But he made all the right noises on Saturday.

He poured in a 20-foot birdie putt at the last to lift him to an eight-under total of 202 on a layout left drenched after a second successive day of rain.

"It was a fantastic day, two-under in these conditions," said Spieth, who stayed within striking distance with a remarkable par-save on No. 16 and a two-putt from 72 feet on No. 17.

"Sixteen and 18 were great. Sixteen was a bit of a slight double breaker, mainly broke right-to-left.

"Just kind of have to cast it out with the right speed and hopefully it takes the right amount of break.

"I visualise where I think it needs to go and it happened to do just that."

He has not had a three-putt in 82 holes.

Stenson began the day with a three-shot lead over Spieth but his mastery of the venerable course waned in the soggy conditions. He posted four bogeys and two birdies for a 72.

The Swede clung to a one-shot lead before bogeying the 17th after knocking his approach into the right bunker, short-siding himself to the pin with the green sloping away. His sand shot ran 35 feet past the cup and he two-putted for bogey.

"Wet, muddy, tough," said Stenson, who led wire-to-wire in winning the 2013 Tour Championship and FedExCup at East Lake and led after each of the first two rounds this year.

Tied for third place, four strokes off the pace at 206, were Rickie Fowler, who best solved the East Lake puzzle on Saturday with a three-under 67, and Englishman Paul Casey, who shot 71.

Four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy (70) and British Open champion Zach Johnson (71) were poised another shot behind at three under par.

McIlroy suffered from awkward stances above greenside bunkers for a bogey at No. 16 and a double-bogey at the 18th that dropped him back from five-under. REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 28, 2015, with the headline 'Spieth strikes back just in time'. Print Edition | Subscribe