Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Golf

Jordan Spieth stays in contention at Valspar Championship

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PALM HARBOR — Jordan Spieth went from worrying about making the 36-hole cut to getting into contention at the Valspar Championship. Spieth followed his 3-under 68 Friday with a bogey-free round of 4-under 67 Saturday to move six shots off the lead at 2-under 211.

His third round at Innisbrook's Copperhead Course included an eagle on the par-5 14 hole when he drained a 52-foot putt.

Six shots out of the lead is not where Spieth thought he would be after his opening-round 5-over 76.

"Very pleased with where we are," Spieth said. "We were looking at potentially flying home, and now we have a chance to win the event."

Spieth won at Innisbrook last year after surviving a three-hole playoff. He got off to a nice start Saturday when he birdied the par-5 first hole. He followed with 10 consecutive pars before a birdie on the par-4 12th. After his eagle, he made four consecutive pars to finish his round.

"Honestly, it really felt like a 6- or 7-under round, and I posted 4," Spieth said. "That's good and bad. I just have to be really, really aggressive on the greens (today)."

McCoy makes noise: Lee McCoy a former Innisbrook resident and Calvary Christian player, and current senior at Georgia — had the low round of the day, 5-under 66, to move to 2 under.

Through 15 holes, the world's eighth-ranked amateur was 7 under before he made double bogey on the par-4 16th hole. McCoy, the only amateur in the field, was paired with Spieth for today's final round.

"I don't want to toot my own horn, but minus the 16th hole, that's as good as I can play," McCoy said. "I couldn't have drawn it up any better."

McCoy made the cut Friday by two strokes, at 1 over, but ended Saturday in the top 10. Through 54 holes, he led all players with 13 birdies.

He said he has played the Copperhead Course nearly a thousand times. So what was his best round?

"This one," he said.

Before the tournament, McCoy planned on returning to Athens, Ga., for the 36-hole Southern Intercollegiate on Monday. Because of his afternoon tee time today, he might not be able to get back to Georgia in time to tee off.

"I don't want him driving through the night," McCoy's mother, Cheryl, said. "We'll have to see when he finishes."

Leaders falter: It has not been good to be at the top of the leaderboard. Among the three first-round leaders, Charles Howell III was tied for fifth entering today, Ken Duke had fallen to 3 over, and Keegan Bradley missed the cut. Friday's leaders, Steve Stricker and Will MacKenzie, also lost ground. MacKenzie was 2 under after 3-over 74, and Stricker was 4 under after 1-over 72.

Hulkamania: There was a good chance that Terry Bollea, aka Hulk Hogan, would be at Innisbrook today. Lee McCoy's father, Terry, is Hogan's financial adviser. Lee McCoy said Hogan mentioned that he would watch him play if he was still in the tournament today.

Chip ins: Since 2008, only two 54-hole leaders have won this tournament, Jim Furyk in 2010 and Kevin Streelman in 2013. … There were only two bogey-free rounds Saturday, Spieth (67) and Ryan Moore (69).

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