Saturday 22 October 2016

Spieth: I'll aim to split from the pack

Manicured Augusta National and the gnarly links-style layout of Chambers Bay may be as different as southern hospitality and grunge rock but the two venues could have a common bond today - Jordan Spieth (above).

Having conquered the Masters in April, Spieth put himself in position to become just the sixth person to slip into a green jacket and hoist the US Open trophy in the same year after grabbing a share of the third round lead on Saturday.

It is an elite group that includes some of golf's greatest names - Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan and Craig Wood - and a club Spieth admitted he has thought about joining.

"A little bit here and there, because I'd like to win two in a row," said Spieth after signing for a one-over-par 71 on Saturday.

"But tomorrow, once I get out on the golf course, I'll just be focused on the round and how to separate myself from the pack."

For only the second time in the 115-year history of the US Open, four men will start Sunday's final round tied for the lead and the 21-year-old Texan may well be the best prepared to handle the pressure of what is shaping up as an enthralling major showdown.

Australian Jason Day, South African Branden Grace and American Dustin Johnson will all be bidding for a first major title while Spieth can draw on the experience gained from having played in the last group at Augusta the previous two years.

"I think I'll be a little bit less anxious. I feel a little more relaxed right now after finishing the round versus when I finished Saturday at Augusta," said Spieth. "I was amped and already ready to start the next round.

"Right now I'll be a little bit more patient, I think, in not letting my mind wander and being focused on the next part of the routine to get ready for the round."

On his way to a green jacket, Spieth fought off challenges from some of golf's most intimidating figures. Woods, Phil Mickelson and world number one Rory McIlroy all took turns trying to rattle the young Texan, but Spieth held steady.

"If we can use that winning formula we had back in April, mentally, then all it comes down to is can I just pull off the shots and it's all on execution," said Spieth. "That's as hard of a golf course as you're going to see every year.

"So I'm going to need to execute a little bit better, because mentally I think I'll be strong enough to pull it off."

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