PEBBLE BEACH — Jordan Spieth found his signature iron play late in the day and Nate Lashley and Daniel Berger lost their respective games on the 18th hole Saturday at Pebble Beach Golf Links.
Spieth made the best of it. He shot a 1-under 71 and maintained his two-shot lead over five players after three rounds of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Spieth, the 2017 AT&T winner has a 13-under-par 203 total through 54 holes.
Tom Hoge (68), Russell Knox (69), first-round leader Patrick Cantlay (69), Lashley (68) and Berger (72) are grouped at 11 under.
“I think my nerves will be there the same as they were last Sunday, the same they were today,” said Spieth who finished tied for fourth last week at the Phoenix Open. “It’s not going to be the most comfortable feeling to start out, but it never is.
“I can’t speak to one time that I stood on the first tee on a Sunday with the lead and felt super, super comfortable. You know, you got to kind of get into the round and play into those kind of nerves and that adrenaline.”
Spieth’s round steadily faded on the back nine with three bogeys through 14 holes. He parred the sixth before moving back to 13 under on the 403-yard 16th.
It was his second fairway hole out of the week, this time with an 8-iron from 158 yards. The birdie moved Spieth back under par for his round. He missed a medium-range birdie putt for a birdie on the 18th.
“I had 158 yards adjusted, with the wind in off the right and a little bit of mud on the right side of the ball,” said Spieth, describing the 16th. “So I knew I could throw it out to the right and let kind of the wind and the mud do most of the work.
“In the air, I thought it was going to be really good, it was one of the only shots I kind of said, ‘oh, be good,’ on today. And as it landed it was just exactly where I was trying to hit it, certainly a bonus for it to drop.”
A victory for Spieth would be his 12th career title and first win since the 2017 British Open.
After early-round rain and foggy conditions, inclement weather was dispatched. Temperatures remained with highs in the 50s.
The top of the leaderboard rotated often, with Lashley making the biggest move. He had six birdies, including on the 13th and 14th. He bogeyed the 17th and concluded his round with an odd bogey on the 18th.
Lashley, a one-time winner in four PGA Tour seasons, drove his tee shot onto the Stillwater Cove beach and then hit consecutive shots into bunkers. He made bogey.
Berger briefly moved into the lead at 13 under when he eagled the fourth hole. He became only the second player since Davis Love III to drive the green and made his eagle.
On the 18th hole, Berger hit out-of-bounds to the right and double-bogeyed.
“I actually played pretty good,” said Berger, who has nine top-10 finishes since 2020, including his win at the Charles Schwab. “Obviously I finished with a double, but I’m still two shots out of the lead, so I feel pretty good about my chances going into tomorrow. Drop a few more putts and it will be a good week.
“I haven’t looked at the forecast so I don’t know if it’s expected to blow like this. I hope it does blow like this. I think it will be more challenging for everyone if it does.”
Cantlay compared his play to his course-tying record in the first round.
“I wouldn’t say I hit it necessarily better than I did on Thursday,” he said. “But it’s hard to make putts out there. The greens are bumpy and it’s blowing, 15-, 20-mph.
“I felt like I hit some good putts that didn’t go in, but that’s kind of this golf course. So I’m right there in good position for tomorrow.”
Jason Day, whose last of 12 PGA Tour titles was the 2018 Wells Fargo Championship, moved to 10 under in a group that includes Maverick McNealy, who had a 68.
“It was pretty solid; my putting was something that saved me out there a few times,” said Day. “It would have been nice to convert 14 and 18, get those birdies, try and get at least to 12.
“But overall it was a tough day, it was blowing 15 to 20 (mph), sometimes a little bit more.”
The final round of the $7.8 million tournament, a first for the event without amateurs, celebrities or spectators, is scheduled for Sunday at Pebble Beach.
Contributed by local news sources