With five birdies on his first 10 holes Saturday, Jordan Spieth looked every bit the part of a man poised to claim his second Open Championship.
The three-time major champion was firing at flags and pouring in putts from all over the greens, much to the delight of the energetic crowds at Royal St. George’s.
His electric start was good enough to grab a share of the lead, with a spot in Sunday’s final pairing seeming like a foregone conclusion. However, the closing stretch at the southeast England course had other ideas, as the 27-year-old sputtered down the stretch to sit three shots off Louis Oosthuizen‘s lead, just as he was entering Saturday’s round.
While firing a 1-under 69 is certainly nothing to sneer at, the 2017 Open Champion let things get away with a sloppy back-to-back bogey finish.
A monster drive on the par-4 17th may have left him with an awkward distance to a tucked pin, but the short-game wizard couldn’t even find the green with his approach before a three-putt led to a shocking bogey.
Things looked much better on the 18th, as a solid approach left a makeable birdie for Spieth to get within two shots of the lead. His first putt would miss, but it’s the par attempt that left everyone on the grounds talking.
The stunning miss from in close led to another bogey and sent Spieth immediately running for the practice putting green to figure out what went wrong.
Spieth ended up spending roughly 35 minutes on the practice green with his instructor, Cameron McCormick, according to ESPN’s Bob Harig.
The finish marred what should have been a day filled with positives for Spieth. For just the second time in his storied major career, he carded his third straight round in the 60s. He’s still well within range to make noise Sunday from the penultimate pairing.
Spieth will hope the final result doesn’t come down to a couple of avoidable holes as the sun set over the English countryside Saturday evening.