PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Jordan Spieth put himself into the mix Saturday at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and he lived to tell about it.
On a day when Seamus Power went backward to allow a half-dozen other players back in the game, Spieth went backward just to make sure he didn’t fall over a 60-foot cliff
Even if it might have looked more dangerous than it was, his approach from the edge of the cliff on the eighth hole at Pebble Beach stole the show on a Saturday that typically belongs to Bill Murray, Macklemore and the rest of the celebrities.
Spieth had a 9-under 63, his career low at Pebble Beach, to go from 10 strokes behind Power to one shot behind the leading trio of Beau Hossler, Andrew Putnam and Tom Hoge.
“That was by far the most nerve-wracking shot I’ve ever hit in my life,” Spieth said to caddie Michael Greller after his shot went just left of the green.
His tee shot ran out through the fairway, short of going over the edge. Keeping all the weight on his right leg, Spieth hit the shot and immediately backpedaled to level ground. From the rough, he chipped down the slippery green to 18 feet and made the par putt.
It was high entertainment on a Saturday built for such theatrics. And while the celebrities attracted a big gallery that lined fairways on another glorious day, the final round was loaded with possibilities.
Hossler had a 65 at Pebble Beach, narrowly missing a second eagle of the round on the 18th hole. He was the first to reach 15-under 200.
Putnam started on the back nine at Pebble Beach and ran off five straight birdies with hardly anyone watching, finishing with a par for a 68 at Pebble Beach. Hoge was at Spyglass Hill and shot a 68 to join them.
Patrick Cantlay, at No. 4 the highest-ranked player in the field, started and finished his round with a pair of birdies and didn’t do a lot in between. He had a 68 and was one shot behind, along with Spieth and Joel Dahmen (66 at Spyglass).
“I’m in great position and I love this golf course and everyone will be playing on the same golf course tomorrow so it should be fun,” Cantlay said.
A key figure in all this fun was Power, the 34-year-old Irishman, who set the 36-hole tournament record at 128 and looked as though he could do wrong.
He had a five-shot lead to par and a four-shot lead on strokes, but his round at par-71 Monterey Peninsula became a struggle off the tee and round the greens. Power had consecutive birdies to get back to 16 under — even for the day — until bogeys on two of his last three holes for a 74.
Even so, he was only two shots behind going into the final round.
Spieth went out in 31, highlighted by an approach up the hill to 3 feet on the par-5 sixth for an eagle and his two 18-footers to close out the front nine, the par on No. 8 and a birdie on No. 9.
He finished with a tee shot on the par-3 17th that took a hard bounce off the springy green, grazed the flag and settled 8 feet away for a birdie. On the iconic par-5 closing hole, his second shot tumbled onto the green and ran near the hole until it stopped on the fringe, leaving 20 feet and two putts for a final birdie.
Jason Day, who tied for third third at Torrey Pines as the former No. 1 player in the world tries to regain his form, kept alive his hopes with a 70 at Spyglass. He was four shots behind.
Hossler and Hoge are the only players among the leading seven who have yet to win on the PGA Tour. Hoge had a chance two weeks ago in the California desert.
Hossler was bogey-free, a steady round with very little stress.
“Pebble can give and take so quickly, right? I was glad to be on the receiving end today,” he said. “I hit it well, played really conservatively, frankly, even though it might not look like it, and was fortunate to not have any misses really get me in significant trouble.”