Jordan Spieth continued his climb up the leaderboard at the 2017 Masters, finishing the third round with a 68 to bring his 54-hole score to four-under par.
When he walked off the course Saturday at Augusta National, Spieth was three shots behind Charley Hoffman for the lead and in a three-way tie for third place.
It’s been quite a turnaround for Spieth, who looked lost after an opening-round 75 that included a quadruple bogey on the 15th hole. He got himself back to even par with a 69 on Friday and is now putting pressure on Hoffman.
Per ESPN Stats & Info, after a birdie on the sixth hole that dropped his score to one-under par, Spieth was playing near-perfect golf:
One big change over the past 48 hours was weather. After heavy winds on Thursday and Friday died down, Saturday was warm and sunny with minimal wind to make it easier to play the course.
Per ESPN’s Trey Wingo, Spieth has a chance to rewrite the history books after his apparent collapse on the 15th hole Thursday:
Justin Ray of the Golf Channel pointed out some other history Spieth was fighting against following his poor first-round showing:
The ninth hole was when Spieth showed the rest of the field he was locked in with this approach shot from the fairway that set him up for an easy birdie before making the turn, as the PGA Tour showed:
He would have a nearly identical approach shot on the 15th hole, though that one had a lot of backspin before stopping within inches of the cup. It set him up for another simple birdie putt that brought him within one shot of Hoffman for the lead, via the PGA Tour:
It was a fitting moment for Spieth, since that hole seemed to signal his doom Thursday, though ESPN’s Jason Sobel pointed out how much better he’s fared on No. 15 in the past two rounds:
The only mistake of his third round came on the 16th hole. He pushed a short par putt just to the right of the hole, and he settled for a bogey that dropped him two shots behind Hoffman. The 23-year-old reached the green on his first shot but needed three putts from 60 feet away to finally get it in.
Spieth’s bogey on No. 16 marked his first since the fourth hole in the second round, a streak of 29 straight holes with at least a par.
That mistake wouldn’t snowball. He closed out the last two holes with back-to-back par scores to finish with a 68.
Since history and Spieth tend to go hand in hand at the Masters, Ray made one more point about what’s at stake for the two-time major winner on Sunday:
The rest of the field was given a massive edge over Spieth on Thursday. He slowly chipped away at it Friday before breaking down the door Saturday.
Spieth will enter Sunday in the middle of a crowded leaderboard, but he’s delivered a message to everyone. He has found his groove and will be ready to take home his second career Masters title with one more brilliant performance.