PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. - Jordan Spieth repeatedly pumped his fist when his 12-foot par putt dropped into the cup on the final hole, a clutch moment worthy of celebration for two reasons. It gave him a third straight bogey-free round at the Players Championship and a share of the lead Saturday with Martin Kaymer.
Spieth was even more impressive when he got into trouble off the tee late in a demanding round. The 20-year-old Texan missed his last four fairways and saved par each time, giving him a 1-under 71 in increasingly tough conditions at the TPC Sawgrass.
Not since Greg Norman won the Players in 1994 has anyone played the opening three rounds without a bogey.
Kaymer held his own for much of the warm, blustery afternoon. He had a 2-shot lead at the turn, but failed to take advantage of the par 5s on the back nine. He missed a par putt from just inside 10 feet on the 18th hole for an even-par 72.
They were at 12-under 204, three shots ahead of former Players winner Sergio Garcia (69) and John Senden (68).
The final twosome of Spieth and Kaymer combined for two bogeys, three birdies, and 31 pars, not the kind of golf one expects to see on a course that provides so much theater. In firmer conditions, it was a solid brand of golf by both.
Spieth has shown no letdown since his runner-up finish at the Masters a month ago. He will have a chance to become the youngest winner of the Players, and it won't be unfamiliar territory. Along with his strong play at Augusta National, he has been in the hunt at three other tournaments this year.
But the final hour was the most challenging for him.