On cliff's edge: Golfer Spieth risks life and limb to save par at Pebble Beach

It was not until Jordan Spieth saw overhead video footage that he realised the risk he had taken in saving par at the par-four eighth. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM PGA TOUR / YOUTUBE

(REUTERS, AFP) - Former world No. 1 golfer Jordan Spieth risked injury, or worse, when he boldly decided to play his ball from the edge of a cliff in a high-wire act in the third round of the Pebble Beach Pro-Am in California on Saturday (Feb 5).

His tee shot stopped within a couple of feet of the cliff edge, with nothing but rocks and the Pacific Ocean way below calling his name had he not retained his balance on his follow-through.

Caddie Michael Greller tried to talk Spieth into taking a penalty stroke which would have allowed the player to drop his ball in a safer spot, but the 28-year-old's decided to take his chances.

The Texan selected a seven-iron for his 160-yard shot from an awkward if not downright dangerous downhill lie, leaving commentators and viewers, including his wife and parents, holding their breath nervously.

One commentator walking with Spieth's group described the situation as "terrifying" but the three-time Major winner went ahead and managed to pull off the shot and hit his ball over the gaping chasm without toppling over the cliff.

It was not until Spieth saw overhead video footage that he realised the risk he had taken in saving par at the par-four eighth.

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"I just saw the blimp shot from overhead and it really bothered me, so I can't imagine while she was watching that live," Spieth said of Annie, his wife of three years.

"My parents are here too, so not only do I have to explain to my wife, I got to explain to my mom, my dad."

Spieth was speaking after carding a nine-under 63 at Pebble Beach to jump within one shot of the lead with one round left at the PGA Tour event.

He was tied-fourth with reigning FedEx Cup champion Patrick Cantlay and Joel Dahmen.

Cantlay, the highest-ranked player in the field at world No. 4, had five birdies in his 68 at Pebble Beach Golf Links, Dahmen had six birdies in his six-under 66 at Spyglass Hill, while Spieth had an eagle and eight birdies with one bogey.

Andrew Putnam shook off a nightmare start to card a four-under 68 and grab a share of the lead alongside Beau Hossler and Tom Hoge.

Putnam's seven birdies included five in a row at Pebble Beach - one of three courses in use over the first three rounds along with Spyglass Hill and the par-71 Monterey Peninsula Shore Course.

Hossler had an eagle and five birdies in a 65 at Pebble Beach and was the first in the clubhouse on 15-under 200. He and Putnam were joined by first-round leader Hoge, who had four birdies in a 68 on the demanding Spyglass Hill layout.

Putnam, seeking to add a second US PGA Tour title to his 2018 Barracuda Championship crown, teed off on the 10th and had a three-putt bogey at the 12th and a double-bogey at No. 13 before turning things around.

After birdies at Nos. 15 and 17 - where he drained a 29-foot putt, Putnam birdied five in a row from the fourth through the eighth for his share of the lead.

"It was pretty ugly that first nine," Putnam said. "You know, it was a really bad start, a three-putt, kind of a stupid mistake and then kind of got a bad break, ball got kind of buried up in a lip. So it can happen out here.

"I kind of kept it in play and started hitting some good shots and the putter started working pretty good on that front side."

Putnam launched his five-birdie burst with a 16-footer at the fourth. He drained birdie putts of four feet at the fifth and sixth and one from inside three feet at the seventh before rolling in a 20-footer at the eighth.

"That got me back in the tournament," he said of the run.

Hossler, who is seeking his first PGA win, said a conservative approach paid off for him.

"I was fortunate to not have any misses really get me in significant trouble," he said. "It was as fairly stress-free as you can be around here.

"I hit a lot of greens and when I did miss the greens, it was in a pretty decent spot."

Hossler got things going with a birdie at the second, then drained a 47-foot eagle putt at the sixth before adding four birdies coming in - including back-to-back birdies to finish.

"I rolled the putter beautifully," he said.

Overnight leader Seamus Power of Ireland had a tough day at Monterey Peninsula, where he had six bogeys in a three-over 74 that left him alone in seventh on 202 - still just two shots off the lead.

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