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Resurgent Spieth takes two-shot lead at Pebble Beach

Monitoring Desk

San Francisco (AFP) Jordan Spieth holed out from the fairway for a sensational eagle at 16 on Saturday on the way to a one-under par 71 and a two-shot lead in the US PGA Tour Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Spieth took another step toward ending a title drought that stretches to his 2017 British Open triumph, his 13-under total of 203 putting him two strokes in front of a group of five players headlined by world number 15 Daniel Berger.

Spieth shook off an early bogey with three birdies on the front nine — including an up-and-down from a greenside bunker at the sixth.

But the 27-year-old looked to be in trouble with bogeys at the 10th, 12th and 14th as the scenic course overlooking the Pacific Ocean played tough in unpredictable, gusting winds.

He was two behind playing partner Berger arriving at the 16th, where his eight-iron second shot from 160 yards out in the fairway hit the green and spun left straight into the cup.

It was Spieth’s second hole-out from more than 100 yards out this week, after his eagle at the 10th on Thursday.

“In the air I thought it was going to be really good, and as it landed it was just exactly where I was trying to hit it, certainly a bonus for it to drop.”

Spieth said his back nine was a “good lesson” to take into Sunday: “how quickly things can change out here.”

Berger surrendered his share of the lead with a double-bogey at the par-five 18th, where his tee shot landed out of bounds beyond a cart path right of the fairway.

Berger was buoyed early by an eagle at the par-four fourth, where he drove the green and drained an eight-footer.

“It was nice to get that nice big bounce up there and make the putt,” he said. “One of the few good things to happen to me today.”

He gave a shot back with a three-putt bogey at the seventh, but birdied the 11th and held steady on the back nine until his disastrous finishing hole.

“I hit a bunch of really good golf shots today,” said Berger, who has nine top-10 finishes since the PGA Tour resumed after it’s coronavirus hiatus ended last June at Colonial — where Berger won in a playoff.

Berger was joined on 205 by Scotland’s Russell Knox and Americans Nate Lashley, Tom Hoge and Patrick Cantlay.

Lashley was 13-under for the tournament through 14 holes but fell back with bogeys at the 17th and 18th, where his tee shot bounced down the rocks to the beach and he played from the water’s edge.

– A chance to win –

Four more players were tied at 10-under: Australian Jason Day, England’s Paul Casey and Americans Maverick McNealy and Brian Stuard.

It was a further stroke back to Will Gordon and Max Homa — who birdied all four of the par-threes.

“Jordan’s going to have to play well because there’s a lot of guys right there,” Berger said.

Plenty will be rooting for the former world number one, who won the 2015 Masters and US Open before his 22nd birthday, and added the 2017 Open Championship before falling off the map.

He’s coming off an encouraging fourth place finish in Phoenix, and said he felt more comfortable than he did last week.

He won’t, however, be piling pressure on himself to get a win.

“What I’m asking for is a chance to win the golf tournament on 18,” he said. “I feel more confident but I don’t feel by any means that I have phenomenal control compared to other time periods where I’ve won three to five times in a season.

“It’s working in that direction, but it’s not there yet.”

Courtesy: France 24