PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – At the time Jordan Spieth teed off Saturday in the third round of the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, tournament leader Webb Simpson might have still been asleep. Spieth made the cut on the number at 1 under, so he went off six hours and 20 minutes ahead of Simpson, and 14 strokes behind him.
But don’t tell him he can’t still win.
Spieth posted a scintillating 65 to storm onto the first page of the leaderboard at 8 under, finishing with three consecutive birdies on the treacherous stretch from 16-18. When he finished, Spieth was still seven strokes back of Simpson’s lead, but close enough he hopes to give the leader something to think about.
He knows the winner on Sunday afternoon isn’t usually the same guy who teed off at 8:20 a.m. on Saturday. He said he wasn’t sure if anyone has won from that spot on the tee sheet before. Can he do it?
“Sure, yeah,” he shot back quickly “Absolutely.
“I’m going to go out with the utmost confidence tomorrow to try and get off to a good start and make some noise. At this point it’s fun, I have nothing to lose. I was 14 back starting today and anything inside a top 10 is an incredible feat over the weekend from that far back. And I’ve got a chance to potentially make more noise than that.”
The three-time major winner knows a little something about mounting a Sunday charge from the lower reaches of the leaderboard. At last month’s Masters, Spieth was nine shots back entering Sunday but shot a thrilling 64, eventually finishing third, two strokes back of Patrick Reed. He will need something similar, and a lot of help from the leaders, to challenge for his first Players win.
What you won’t see Sunday is Spieth emulating the long-sleeved look sported earlier this week by Phil Mickelson.
“I actually own a couple of those button downs,” Spieth confessed after his round.
Does he play in them?
“No, not for golf,” he quickly clarified. “Just wearing around. Dinner or whatever. Actually, they’re really nice shirts.”