Spieth, Wallace share lead entering Valero Texas Open final round

Spieth and Englishman Matt Wallace are at 12 under after both players birdied their final two holes of the day.

File Picture: Jordan Spieth shot a 5-under 67 on Saturday to move into a tie for the lead heading into the final round of the Valero Texas Open.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Jordan Spieth shot a 5-under 67 on Saturday to move into a tie for the lead heading into the final round of the Valero Texas Open.

Spieth and Englishman Matt Wallace are at 12 under after both players birdied their final two holes of the day. Wallace also posted a 67, and Charley Hoffman is alone in third at 10 under after shooting a 65.

Hoffman was 7 shots back after a bogey at No. 4, but he finished up with six birdies and sank a 5-foot eagle putt at the 14th. He won here five years ago.

Three consecutive bogeys early on the back nine sent second-round leader Cameron Tringale to a 1-over 73 that put him at 8 under for the tournament. Anirban Lahiri is at 7 under after a 69.

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Tom Hoge finished with five birdies and moved up 26 spots on the leaderboard with a third-round 66. He is in a group of four players at 6 under that includes Lucas Glover (70), Gary Woodland (67) and Matt Kuchar (70).

The start of play was delayed 2½ hours by rain.

Time has just about run out on Rickie Fowler's chances to make his 11th straight Masters appearance next week. He has to win to get in, but his 69 on Saturday has him in 21st place and 9 shots out of the lead.

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With four birdies in an eight-hole stretch, Spieth was tied with Wallace and Hoffman for the lead heading to the 308-yard 17th. Spieth sailed his tee shot about 50 yards off line, right of the green, still just about pin high. His ball had rolled several yards down a concrete cart path and settled onto a gravel maintenance path.

"I didn't feel like I had great control of the golf ball,'' Spieth said. "I left the ball in the right spots when it was missed, and really, I did a great job managing today.''

Wallace nailed his tee shot to the fringe of the green. Spieth got free relief with a drop off the gravel. From about 52 yards, Spieth opened the face of his wedge and sailed it upward, a nifty recovery shot that trickled the ball to about three feet from the cup.

With his chip and short putt, Wallace also birdied 17. Wallace and Spieth reached the 18th in 2 and each birdied again.

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"It was good fun on the back nine, trading birdies,'' Spieth said. "I think that's what we'll hopefully look to do tomorrow. On the back, it was nice to see some putts go in within the group. It was a fun atmosphere out there.''

Spieth, winless since his 2017 British Open title, has been knocking on the door the past two months. He led heading into the final round at Pebble Beach. He shared the lead with 18 to go at Phoenix and he led at the Arnold Palmer Invitational with 11 holes to go.

Wallace was a stroke back of Tringale entering the day and took the lead after opening with two birdies. He bogeyed No. 11 but came in with four birdies after that.

"Started off lovely,'' said Wallace, a four-time winner in Europe looking for his first win in the U.S. "I felt nervous, but that's a good thing because I haven't been in this situation in a while.''

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The 2016 Texas Open is one of four wins on Tour for Hoffman. He also was runner-up here in 2019 and 2011, and he finished third in 2013.

Hoffman bogeyed his fourth hole on Saturday and was 7 back. But he birdied 6 and 8 with putts inside 8 feet and put away a 17-footer for birdie at the 12th.

His putter stayed hot at 16 and 17 -- both of those birdies came from past 13 feet.

He finished it off with a 340-yard drive on 18, reached the par-5 in 2 from 260 yards out and left his 40-foot uphill eagle putt just a couple of feet short for an easy birdie.

"After my start on Thursday, I didn't know if I'd be out here for the weekend,'' Hoffman said. "Something clicked late on Thursday coming in. And this course is something that fits my eye -- I enjoy playing this golf course and I make a few putts. So I like where I'm at, and I'm playing good going into tomorrow.''

Anirban Lahiri takes fifth spot

India's Anirban Lahiri fired a second successive three-under 69 in the third round to jump three places to the fifth position.

The 33-year-old Indian was on seven-under 209, giving him a legitimate crack at the title.

After taking last week off, Lahiri has shown marked improvements with his ball striking. He missed several putts from inside of 12 feet but was still upbeat after plodding his way around TPC San Antonio with four birdies on Hole Nos. 4, 11, 14 and 17 against a lone bogey.

"I think this is the most solid I've played tee to green in a while. I felt really calm and, you know, I kind of knew what I was doing and it's really nice," said Lahiri.

"I do feel like I left quite a few shots out there. I hit it really good. So yeah, I think I would have liked to be maybe two, three shots better, but still got a look at it tomorrow. If I can go out and do the same things I did today, maybe make a couple more, it would be nice to get in the hunt."

'Getting better'

Lahiri has been working hard on simplifying his swing with long-time coach Vijay Divecha, who lives in India. "I know the results haven't showed it, but I know I've been getting better. My ball striking hasn't been anywhere near my usual standards," he said.

"I think I just got down to it with my coach. We've been doing a lot of work back and forth and just trying to simplify things. I think I was making things more complicated than they need to be and I think that's been the key this week. A golf course like this is really good if you can have good strategies and that's really helped me."

Since making his PGA Tour debut in 2016, Lahiri, a seven-time winner in Asia, has come close on a few occasions to joining countryman Arjun Atwal as a winner on the world's premier golf circuit. He holds a career best finish of T2 at the Memorial Tournament in 2017 but has largely struggled this year with five missed cuts in seven starts.

With Spieth chasing a 12th PGA TOUR win and his first since 2017 and Wallace hunting for a maiden title, Lahiri knows he needs a solid performance to stay in the mix on Sunday. "I mean, there's a lot of good players. I'm just going to have to come out with a clear plan on which holes to attack, which holes to kind of be maybe a little more conservative.

"The idea is just to, you know, when you start coming back towards the clubhouse when you get to 15, you want to have a shot at it. And quite honestly, that's my goal. You know, on the homeward stretch, if I can give myself a look, I'm pretty sure I can get it done."

- PTI

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