Maui Sports

Spieth Owns 5-shot Lead After 54 Holes at Hyundai Tourney

January 9, 2016, 7:27 PM HST
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PGA golfer Jordan Spieth tees off on the first hole during the third round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions golf tournament at Kapalua Resort on Saturday. Photo by Brian Spurlock of USA TODAY Sports.

PGA golfer Jordan Spieth tees off on the first hole during the third round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions golf tournament at Kapalua Resort on Saturday. Photo by Brian Spurlock of USA TODAY Sports.

By MauiNow.com

As good as things have gone for Jordan Spieth over the last three days at Kapalua, the 22-year-old golfing phenom predicts he’s going to have continue to score low on Sunday if he hopes to hold the winner’s trophy of the 2016 season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

That’s because the world’s No. 1 player continues to play lights out golf here on Maui and he can’t wait to comeback. On Saturday, Spieth closed out the third round with another stellar effort that saw him sink a 46-foot birdie putt, two chips that showed why he’s among the best with a wedge, and a 3-iron that grazed the cup and set up a 10-foot eagle putt on the final hole.

The Texan, who grew up playing on the same Bermuda grass growing on The Plantation Course greens, finished with an 8-under 65 and a five-shot lead over Brooks Koepka.

PGA golfer Jordan Spieth signs autographs on his way to the first tee during the third round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions golf tournament at Kapalua Resort on Saturday. -Photo by Brian Spurlock of USA TODAY Sports.

PGA golfer Jordan Spieth signs autographs on his way to the first tee during the third round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions golf tournament at Kapalua Resort on Saturday. -Photo by Brian Spurlock of USA TODAY Sports.

“I guess 4-under on the last five holes is something I can take into tomorrow’s round,” said Spieth, who has a 42-under-par in his last seven rounds at The Plantation Course. “Of course extending the lead is nice, but I’m going to have to shoot a low score tomorrow to keep it.

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“I look forward to trying to secure my spot back in this event. I mean I love coming here, I love playing here, and I love this golf course. It’s a great way to start the season, so I’m going to do what I can to try and notch the first win of 2016 and to get myself back in the 2017 Tournament of Champions.”

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Koepka, playing for only the second time in nearly three months and his first tournament since switching to Nike, failed to birdie the two easiest holes and still had a career-best 63.

PGA golfers Jason Day and Justin Thomas putt on the third hole with a rainbow behind them during the third round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions golf tournament at Kapalua Resort of Saturday. Photo by Brian Spurlock of USA TODAY Sports.

PGA golfers Jason Day and Justin Thomas putt on the third hole with a rainbow behind them during the third round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions golf tournament at Kapalua Resort of Saturday. Photo by Brian Spurlock of USA TODAY Sports.

“I played really good, I felt like the way I drove the ball was good and my iron play was good,” Koepka said. “I mean I flagged it all day. It was just a stripe show that’s all I can, because i did not miss a golf shot until 18.”

Defending champion Patrick Reed was the only other player within nine shots of the lead. He shot 67 and was six shots behind.

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“With the Kona winds and the winds being higher than it was the first two days, I’m extremely pleased, especially the way we bounced back after that stretch from 8th through 11 where I started looking like I was slapping it around a bit.

“I just needed one thing to go my way and I got that long putt on No. 12, and then all of sudden we turn things around there on those easy holes.”

Spieth, who was at 24-under 195, is just one shot shy of the 54-hole record at Kapalua that Ernie Els set in 2003 on his way to an eight shot win at 31-under par, making him the only player in PGA Tour history to finish a 72-hole event at 30 under or better.

The flag on the second hole blows in the wind during the third round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions golf tournament at The Plantation Course on Saturday. Photo by Brian Spurlock of USA TODAY Sports.

The flag on the second hole blows in the wind during the third round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions golf tournament at The Plantation Course on Saturday. Photo by Brian Spurlock of USA TODAY Sports.

“I was looking at the forecast. It’s next to nothing on the wind, so you’ve got to expect Brooks, Patrick to shoot somewhere in the 7-under, 8-under range,” Spieth said. “That’s what I have to expect out of them tomorrow. And if that’s case, I’ve got to go out there and shoot in the 60s in order to win. And to be honest, with the scoring we’ve done this week, it frustrates me that I have to shoot 4 to 6 under in order to win this tournament still.

“But that’s just the level of golf that’s been played.”

Spieth ran off four straight birdies on the front nine to keep his distance. Koepka kept charging, at one point pulled to within one shot with a birdie on the 15th hole. Spieth answered with a 50-foot birdie on No. 12, but it was his short game that saved him.

After a simple chip to 2 feet for birdie on the short par-4 14th, he went over the back of the green on the par-5 15th and faced a tough chip to a back pin. Instead of chipping short and letting it run onto the green and feed down the grain to the hole, he opened his stance and hit a flop shot to 3 feet.

PGA golfer Davis Love III tees off on the third hole during the third round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions golf tournament at The Plantation Course on Saturday. Photo by Brian Spurlock of USA TODAY Sports.

PGA golfer Davis Love III tees off on the third hole during the third round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions golf tournament at The Plantation Course on Saturday. Photo by Brian Spurlock of USA TODAY Sports.

His next chip didn’t look as dramatic but might have been tougher. After his wedge spun off the green and into the fairway, he faced a chip into the grain and up the slope to a back pin 70 feet away. It came off perfectly to tap-in range.

“I am a bit surprised at my chipping because I have not put much time into my chipping whatsoever in the last month,” he said. “I’ve been more focused on putting and swing that I have been chipping. It’s been spectacular this week.”

Just over a year ago when Spieth won the Hero World Challenge at Isleworth, he had a seven-shot lead going into the last round and a goal of reaching 20 under for the first time in his career. He won by 10 and finished at 26 under.

Sunday’s target score is 30 under.

“I think it’s a great goal to set, to try and set something to shoot for versus trying to look at behind you at who is coming up,” he said. “Trying to get to 30 would be a fantastic number to set for tomorrow. That would be a place I’ve never been.”

PGA golfer Rickie Fowler talks to his caddie before teeing off on the first hole during the third round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions golf tournament at Kapalua Resort on Saturday. Photo by Brian Spurlock of USA TODAY Sports.

PGA golfer Rickie Fowler talks to his caddie before teeing off on the first hole during the third round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions golf tournament at Kapalua Resort on Saturday. Photo by Brian Spurlock of USA TODAY Sports.

Spieth played Kapalua four times before the official start of tournament week, including two rounds with Brandt Snedeker, who shot a 65 and was nine shots back along with Fabian Gomez of Argentina, who had a 70.

“I tell you what, you can’t make a lot of mistakes,” Snedeker said. “He just hits so many quality golf shots. And when he doesn’t, his short game is so good he doesn’t make any bogeys. So it puts a lot of pressure on your to make sure you’re on top of your game.”

Koepka had his best score on the PGA Tour and still shaved only two shots of his deficit, though he at least has one more day. Reed remains the only player at Kapalua this week without a bogey, though a 67 left him six shots behind.

“Jordan is definitely not letting up and we’re going to have to go out and get it,” Reed said.

Click Here For Sunday’s Final Round Tee Times

2016 Hyundai Tournament
Jan 7-10 – Purse: $5,900,000
Kapalua Resort – The Plantation Course – Kapalua, Hawaii, United States
Leaderboard – Ongoing R1 R2 R3 R4 Total Thru
1
Jordan Spieth
-7 -9 -8 -24 18
2
Brooks Koepka
-4 -5 -10 -19 18
3
    Patrick Reed
-8 -4 -6 -18 18
T4
Brandt Snedeker
-6 -1 -8 -15 18
T4
Fabian Gomez
-5 -7 -3 -15 18
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