IRVING, Texas — Brooks Koepka knew all those spectators lined several deep along the fairways and around the greens were there to cheer for one his playing partners.
Many were lugging around some of the 8,000 Jordan Spieth bobbleheads given away Saturday at the Byron Nelson or using hand-held fans with his picture. They also got to watch the third-round leader play.
Koepka overcame two early bogeys and the huge shadow of playing alongside Spieth in his home event, shooting 5-under 65 and matching the Nelson's best 54-hole score at 16-under 194. He had a two-stroke lead over Spieth going into today's final round, when they will be paired together again.
"Doesn't really bother me. I mean he's got a lot of support which is cool to see," said Koepka, describing himself as a chilled athlete. "He has grown up here. … He should."
Spieth played his first PGA Tour event at the Nelson as a 16-year-old amateur six years ago. He is now the world's No. 2-ranked player, and his image is everywhere at TPC Four Seasons, including those treasured bobbleheads and on signage for AT&T, which sponsors him and this tournament.
Playing in the final threesome with Spieth and second-round leader Ben Crane, Koepka hit his first drive way left on the way to an opening bogey. There were birdies at Nos. 3 and 5, but he followed with bogey at No. 6 when he hit his first two shots into the rough.
But Koepka was bogey-free the rest of the day and took the lead with a 20-foot birdie at the difficult 405-yard 14th hole. Spieth sank a 23-foot putt there to salvage bogey after hitting his drive into the water and having to punch a shot back into the fairway.
"Powerful. Fearless and powerful," Spieth said when asked to describe Koepka's game.
Matt Kuchar (65), Bud Cauley (68) and Sergio Garcia (68) were tied for third at 13 under. Crane, who turned 40 in March, shot 72 and dropped to 10 under and in a tie for 11th.
CHAMPIONS: Bernhard Langer avoided the troubles of several other Regions Tradition contenders on a day when swirling wind became a factor. The result was a four-shot lead.
A stroke behind leader Kenny Perry entering the third round, Langer shot 3-under 69 to move to 12-under 204 in the first major of the year for the seniors, while Perry and others stumbled in Birmingham, Ala.
"It was a tough day," Langer said. "It was windy, it was swirly, never consistent. The wind, it was all over the place. Played pretty solid, drove the ball fantastic today, really drove it phenomenally, long and straight. Just a couple of short putts that hurt."
Perry held the lead after each of the first two rounds but had double bogey on the opening hole on his way to 74. He and Scott McCarron, who shot 72, were tied for second place.
LPGA: Ariya Jutanugarn moved into position for her second straight tour victory, shooting bogey-free 6-under 65 to take the third-round lead in the rain-soaked Kingsmill Championship in Williamsburg, Va. Jutanugarn was at 10-under 203 overall. Second-round leader So Yeon Ryu bogeyed the final hole for 69 to drop a stroke back along with fellow South Korean player In Gee Chun and Thailand's Pornanong Phatlum.
PGA EUROPE: Rory McIlroy could be on the cusp of his first Irish Open victory if the weather permits him to finish. Lightning storms bedeviled the third round, and tournament organizers suspended play with McIlroy ready to tee off at the 16th hole while holding a three-stroke lead over Danny Willett, who had a one-stroke lead after two rounds. McIlroy was at 9-under 137 for the tournament in Straffan, Ireland.