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Late putting woes keep Jordan Spieth three shots behind at The Open

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Jordan Spieth ended his third round of The Open where he began – three shots behind – but as always there was nothing stagnant about his play.  

Surging into a share of the lead, then retreating after a couple of uncharacteristic mistakes, Spieth literally ran off the 18th green, signed his scorecard and headed to the putting green for a little practice.

In the fading daylight, there was much work to be done.

Spieth carded a 1-under 69 Saturday at Royal St. George’s but gave away precious opportunities that could have better positioned him to capture a fourth major.

Spieth struggles in third round at The Open

Spieth struggles in third round at The Open

Spieth made five birdies in the first 10 holes and shared the lead with Louis Oosthuizen midway through the back nine.

That’s when his mistakes began.

Spieth looked as though he was about to take the outright lead for the first time in the championship when his second shot into the par-5 14th settled just short of the green. Taking putter from the fringe, he failed to rap his ball all the way up the hill, missing a 10-footer for birdie.

149th Open Championship: Full-field scores | Full coverage

On 17, a deep drive left him in no-man’s land, too close to the green to put much spin on his approach. His flip wedge didn’t carry the false front, and he three-putted again from the front edge. Bogey. 

Ah, but there was more: Putting for a momentum-building birdie on the final green, Spieth gave his putt a good effort, burning the left edge and running out about 2 feet. A day earlier, he had snuck in a 1-footer for par, grinning as he shook hands with his playing partners. He didn’t get away with it this time – his 2-footer never touched the hole, a crushing closing bogey.

Even after carding for his third consecutive round in the 60s – just the second time in his major career that he’s accomplished that feat – Spieth’s frustration was immediately apparent. He jogged off the back of the green and into the grandstand tunnel like a kicker who’d just missed a tying field goal.

After blowing off his post-round media duties, he went to the practice putting green for a little extra work with coach Cameron McCormick. He wasn't out of it, not at all, just a few shots worse than he wanted.