MIAMI • The world's No. 1 golfer and defending champion Jordan Spieth fought his way into contention after Saturday's third round of the Valspar Championship, but it was fellow American Bill Haas who grabbed the lead.
Reigning Masters and US Open champion Spieth, who shot an opening round of 76, fired a bogey-free four-under 67 on Saturday to end at 211, six shots off the pace at Innisbrook. Haas also had a 67 .
"I will need something like seven under tomorrow, which is feasible," Spieth said. "So, to think after the first round that I go to Saturday night, and be able to sleep with a chance to win the golf tournament, I'm very pleased with that."
Haas birdied the par-five first and par-three fourth, and began the back nine with back-to-back birdies. He answered a bogey at the par-three 13th with a chip-in birdie at the par-three 15th to grab his seventh career 54-hole lead, his first since winning last year at Palm Desert in California.
"I made some nice putts early. Some loose shots on the back nine, I was able to get away with," he said. "Overall, somewhat solid. Very pleased to shoot four under."
Canada's Graham DeLaet, seeking his first PGA Tour title, was second on 206 after a 68, while Americans Charley Hoffman and Ryan Moore shared third spot on 208.
The 22-year-old Spieth found all but two fairways after reaching only seven in the first two rounds. His greens in regulation progressed from six to 10 to 12.
"My misses were still on the greens today," he said. "I drove the ball a bit better."
He opened with a tap-in birdie on the par-five first, added a 31-foot birdie at the par-four 12th, then sank a 51-foot eagle putt at the par-five 14th.
"I was leaving everything short, but started to be a little more aggressive today on the greens, hitting my longer putts harder. It was stress-free pars for the majority of the round. Really nice to have no blemishes," he said.