Augusta (Georgia), April 10 (IANS) Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri carded three-over 75 to be tied 38th, a jump of nine places, in the third and penultimate round of the 80th Masters Tournament here.
The 28-year-old on Saturday collected birdies on the second and seventh holes, alongside bogeys on the first, third, fifth, 15th and 16th at the Augusta National Golf Club.
The world No.51 now has a three-day total of eight-over 224. His earlier two rounds were 76 and 73, respectively.
The Bengaluru had finished tied 49th at the Masters last year and coming into the final round, he will look to push for a better finish in the year’s first Major.
Meanwhile, American Jordan Spieth (73) remained strongly in pursuit of his title defence as he held a one-shot lead at the top with a three-under 213 total.
Smylie Kaufman had the lowest round of another windblown and crusty afternoon, shooting a 69 to get within one short of Spieth. Kaufman was one of just four players to break par on Saturday.
Spieth birdied five holes, and got bogeys on the seventh and 17th alongside a double-bogey on the 18th. On each of the last two holes the 22-year-old Texan drove it into the trees to shoot 73 for his second straight over par round.
World No.2 Spieth is bidding to become just the fourth golfer to successfully defend at Augusta National after Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods.
“I’ve certainly felt better last year on Saturday night than I do right now,” he told pgatour.com. “But at the same time, I feel that if I can get to the range, I straighten the ball out (Sunday), I get back to the same routine I was just in, I certainly think that down the stretch, I’m better prepared now than I was at this point last year.
“It’s hard for me to say that because we just answered every statement made on the golf course last year on Sunday. So I can’t rely on the putter the way I did today. I’ve got to strike the ball better. That’s what leaves me a little uneasy compared to last year. … I relied on my putter on Sunday last year and it came through. I can’t do that every single round, so I’ve got to put myself in better positions tomorrow.”
Two strokes off the pace were German Bernhard Langer (70) was tied for third place with Japanese Hideki Matsuyama (72). Langer at age 58 would be the oldest Major winner by a decade and is a dozen years older than when Jack Nicklaus won here in 1986.
World No.1 Jason Day of Australia (71), Dustin Johnson (72) and Englishman Danny Willett (72) shared the fifth place on 216 total, while Brandt Snedeker (74), Lee Westwood (71) and Soren Kjeldsen (74) were tied eighth.
Overnight second-placed, Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy dropped five strokes back, making three bogeys and a double bogey alongside Spieth to shoot 77. The World No.3 was tied 11th with Daniel Berger.
McIlroy was trying to become just the sixth man to complete the career Grand Slam but it seemed he will have to wait for the next Major.