CHARLOTTE, N.C. — For the first seven holes Saturday, Jordan Spieth continued the frustrating play that has denied him a shot at history. Three bogeys had him free-falling down the leaderboard.
But then he finally found the form — specifically, his putting stroke — that he had been seeking all week at Quail Hollow.
A birdie from 10 feet at the eighth hole, followed by his longest made putt of the week, from 33-1/2 feet from the fringe at the ninth. Then four consecutive pars followed by three consecutive birdies, including a 23-foot putt at the 16th.
His 5-under stretch in those nine holes had him on the verge of climbing inside the top 20 on the leaderboard.
But on the final hole, his tee shot found the bunker and his second shot landed in the water. He ultimately suffered a double bogey, leaving him with an even-par 71 and 3 over going into the final round.
It’s his best score of the week but even after his hot stretch, he had few illusions of becoming a contender.
“If I had birdied one of the last two and I’m at even, it’s unrealistic,” Spieth said. “My goal was to try to work our way into a backdoor Top-10. Kind of stinks because it sets me back there. 18 is just a ridiculously hard hole today.”
He’ll go into Sunday hoping to build some momentum going into the FedExCup Playoffs. Two months ago, he was out of contention at the U.S. Open but shot a final-round confidence-boosting 69. He said it was a catalyst to his wins at the Travelers Championship and The Open Championship.
“Obviously any week you don’t have a chance to win, you’ve fallen short of where you would like to be,” Spieth said. “Disappointing would have been going home after two days. I think I saw some highlights today.
“Like Michael [Greller, his caddie] was saying, we could break the season into quarters. This is the start of the fourth quarter. [Entering the] U.S. Open Sunday, I was out of it, but I gathered a little something off that Sunday round that led to two wins and two tournaments after that including a major.
“Just one round like that can do that. That’s what I’m looking to do here.”