SINGAPORE – Jordan Spieth inched closer to the top of the leaderboard after a long and frustrating day for the American at the weather-hit Singapore Open on Saturday.
Despite not playing his best in the sweltering humidity of Southeast Asia, the top-ranked Spieth kept himself in contention by ending the third day just three shots off the pace at the Sentosa Golf Club.
With tournament organizers forced to play catch-up after the first two days were interrupted by tropical storms, Spieth was on the course just after dawn to finish off his second round. After a 2-under 70, he was back out there when the sun went down in the evening, sitting at 6-under par for the tournament, with his ball marked on the 17th green.
Spieth ended the day three strokes behind South Korea's Song Young-han, who was 9 under after completing 13 holes, and two behind China's Liang Wen-chong, who finished just in time to grab the clubhouse lead at 8 under and a sleep-in on Sunday.
Japan's Shintaro Kobayashi and South Africa's Keith Horne, playing in the final group with Song, were both at 7 under, and among 15 players needing to return to the course at daybreak on Sunday to finish their third rounds.
Spieth played a total of 28 holes on Saturday with mixed fortune, making six birdies and five bogeys in an inconsistent display.
''This has happened before, it is not unusual,'' Spieth said of his long day. ''You have delays where you have to come out and be prepared to play a lot of golf the next day and you hope that that day you are on rhythm.''
The 22-year-old Spieth had struggled to get his distances right on the first two days but found his range on Saturday, only to be let down by his putting and driving.
He uncharacteristically missed a handful of short putts, including a three-footer for par on the 18th in the second round, and another from the same distance in the afternoon, swiping his putter in the air in irritation.
He also had problems off the tee, routinely missing the fairways and finding the rough, but produced a few moments of brilliance to stay in the hunt, including two up-and-downs from greenside bunkers and a superb approach at the seventh for birdie, which brought a wry smile and a celebratory fist-bump from his manager Jay Danzi, who was carrying his bags in the absence of Spieth's regular caddie.
Song had the luxury of taking Saturday morning off after he finished his second round before Friday afternoon's foul weather and the South Korean briefly threatened to open up a bigger gap when he got to 11 under before coming back to the field with two late bogeys. Horne got himself into a share of the lead but also slid back when he made a double bogey on the ninth after hooking his drive out of bounds.