12 Apr 2015

Spieth sets Masters 54 hole record

12:46 pm on 12 April 2015

The biggest names in golf poured pressure on Jordan Spieth, but the young American refused to crack, carding a two-under 70 to take a four-shot lead into the final round of the Masters.

Spieth chips from the bunker on the 10th, Masters day 3, 2015

Spieth chips from the bunker on the 10th, Masters day 3, 2015 Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Masters champions Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson and world number one Rory McIlroy all took turns trying to rattle the 21-year-old Texan, but Spieth held steady on a sweaty Georgia afternoon, setting a Masters 54-hole record of 200 to better the previous mark of 201 shared by Woods and Raymond Floyd.

At 16 under, Spieth will again feature in Sunday's final pairing after sharing the 54 hole lead in his Masters debut in 2014 with the eventual champion Bubba Watson

Spieth will have to steel himself to avoid consecutive runner up finishes at Augusta if he's to hold off his playing partner Briton Justin Rose, who collected five birdies over his final six holes for a third round five-under 67.

Phil Mickelson also had a 67 to sit five off the pace while Charley Hoffman returned a one-under 71 to leave him six back.

McIlroy and Woods were among those at six under after shooting 68s.

The third round of the Masters is often filled with drama but with Woods, the 14-time major winner; Mickelson, a three-time Masters champion; and McIlroy, chasing a career grand slam, all on the charge the atmosphere around Augusta National was electric with possibilities as Spieth's composure was put to the test.

Holding a five-shot overnight lead, the unflappable Spieth had threatened to run away with the year's first major, widening his lead to seven before a double-bogey at the par-four 17th.

After carding just a single bogey through the opening two rounds, Spieth had three on Saturday along with his double-bogey, but also hit seven birdies.

Competing for the first time in two months after a self-imposed absence from the PGA Tour to retool his game, Woods flashed glimpses of the form that carried him to four green jackets as he joined McIlroy, Kevin Streelman (70), Kevin Na (70) and Dustin Johnson (73) in a tie for fifth, 10 shots back of the frontrunner.

"I've got to go out early and do what I did a few years ago, I shot 30 or 31," said Woods refusing to wave the white flag on a fifth Masters title.

"It's in Jordan's hands right now, he can run off and make three birdies coming in and put a substantial gap between himself and the rest of the field.

"But you just never know."

McIlroy made a spectacular start with an eagle on the par-five second.

On the brink of missing the cut with nine holes to play on Friday, the Northern Irishman grinded his way to eight under but stumbled with bogeys at the 16th and 18th.

"A disappointing finish," lamented McIlroy. "But overall felt like I played pretty well; and as I say, just a little disappointed the way I finished."