Golf

Masters Day Three: Spieth & Watson lead

Spieth is making his first-ever appearance at a major championship (©GettyImages)
Spieth is making his first-ever appearance at a major championship (©GettyImages).

20-year-old Jordan Spieth could become the youngest-ever winner of the Masters after the American fired a two-under 70 to take a joint-54 hole lead with compatriot Bubba Watson at Augusta. 

The youngster - making his first major appearance - mixed two birdies with two bogeys until back-to-back birdies on 14 and 15 coupled with Watson's bogey on the par-three 16th meant both sat top of the leaderboard after three rounds, as the chasing pack closed the gap on the overnight leader. 

At 20 years, eight months and 16 days he will eclipse Tiger Woods' record of youngest winner set back in 1997 when he romped to a 12-shot win before going on to dominate the sport. Spieth will also match Keegan Bradley's recent achievement of winning the first major he's competed in. 

Spieth told the BBC afterwards: "It was a day about controlling the nerves and trying to stay as patient as possible. I'm really surprised by how well I did.

"Saturday was the best mental game I've ever had and I'm going to need another one on Sunday. I feel comfortable on the greens, which is very important."

Matt Kuchar and Jonas Blixt are just a single stroke back after the former's 68 threw him into contention for the third year running, while Sweden's Blixt shot one under to keep in touch. 

A stunning 66 from Miguel Angel Jimenez, and an equally as good 67 from young American Rickie Fowler, left them both two strokes adrift and with a real chance of claiming their maiden major title in Georgia.

And the English trio of Lee Westwood (-2), Justin Rose (-1) and Ian Poulter (even par) all gave themselves a fighting chance of being the first man from these shores to claim a Green Jacket since Sir Nick Faldo claimed his third in 1996 - while pre-tournament favourite Rory McIlroy harbours slim hopes of a third major win after his 71 left him at plus three, and eight back. 

Defending champion Adam Scott struggled with the speed of the infamous Georgia greens and slumped to one-over par with a 76, six off the pace. 

But Sunday's focus - particularly from the Nationals' patrons - will be on Spieth, who made his breakthrough last year with a stunning debut season on the PGA Tour that saw him win his first event and capped his fine introduction to professional golf with a Presidents Cup call up. 

He will be aided by the experience of his playing partner and fellow countryman, Watson, who knows exactly what is needed on a Sunday in Georgia after he opened his major account with victory there two years ago - although he too will be hoping to add another blazer to the one in his wardrobe.

Augusta is a stern test for even the most seasoned professional and Spieth will need mental courage in abundance on Sunday, but he can draw on all the experience gained during 2013 where he surged from 810th in the world to 22nd thanks to ample top-10 finishes as well as a maiden win at the John Deere Classic. 

He will face stiff competition from some of the world's top golfers, though, as the 2014 Masters promises to reach an exhilarating climax with a host of names in with a chance of slipping on the prestigious Green Jacket come Sunday evening. 

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Topics:
Justin Rose
Bubba Watson
Tiger Woods
Golf
US Masters

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