‘Freed up’ Jordan Spieth back in striking distance at WGC-Shanghai

Jordan Spieth shot back into contention on Saturday for the World Golf Championships - HSBC Championships title in Shanghai with a sterling 63.

Jordan Spieth reacts during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions tournament in Shanghai on Saturday. Aly Song / Reuters / November 7, 2015
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Jordan Spieth has a return to world No 1 and a first World Golf Championship title in his sights after surging through the field with a brilliant 63 in the HSBC Champions in Shanghai.

Spieth began the day 10 shots behind halfway leader Kevin Kisner, but carded nine birdies and no bogeys to close to within three shots of his fellow American, who carded his first bogeys of the week in a third round of 70.

At 16-under, Kisner held a one-shot lead over 2013 champion Dustin Johnson, China’s Li Haotong and Scotland’s Russell Knox, who chose not to play the final hole due to darkness after earlier weather delays.

The final group of Knox, Kisner and Branden Grace were asked by a tournament official on the 18th tee if they wanted to play the par five, with Grace making a birdie to finish 12-under and Kisner a par as Knox looked on.

England’s Ross Fisher played his last eight holes in 5-under to card a 65 and join Spieth and his Ryder Cup partner Patrick Reed on 13-under, Reed recovering from a double bogey on the fifth to shoot 68.

Spieth had expected to be rusty after his longest lay-off for 10 years, going two weeks without touching a club after helping the United States retain the Presidents Cup in Korea last month.

That showed with 10 birdies and six bogeys in opening rounds of 68 and 72, but the FedEx Cup winner was close to his best on Saturday, even though he felt a number of good opportunities went begging.

“This will be the first and only time I would say this, but I was not expecting myself to be in this position come Sunday when the week started,” said the 22-year-old, who needs to finish in the top 13 to reclaim top spot from the absent Jason Day, whose wife is due to give birth to their second child. “I came in with very little confidence in my trust of what I’m trying to do in my swing.

“On the range I found an easier way to get the club in the position I’ve wanted it to be in the whole week. It freed me up to be able to not think about impact position and just swing through the ball.

“I’ve struggled to shoot lower than two or three under on this golf course in the past couple years, but today was the day to do it with ball in hand, very little wind and some gettable pins.

“For whatever reason (on Friday), I put some higher expectations than what I’d said coming into this week. I shot four under the first day, figured maybe I could do that again. Yesterday’s conditions were tough and I lost a few shots because of it.

“I came out knowing that it was a gettable golf course. I missed four putts inside eight feet – I’m not going to complain about the round but I felt like the way I played could have been 10 or 11, for sure.”

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