Spi­eth keen for first Texas ti­tle

Holds one-shot lead over Palmer in home state tour­ney

SundayXtra - - GOLF - By Stephen Hawkins

FORT WORTH, Texas — Jor­dan Spi­eth is still seek­ing his first PGA Tour vic­tory in his home state of Texas. Ryan Palmer would love to win on his home course.

Spi­eth and Palmer, who play a lot of prac­tice rounds to­gether, will be in the last group to­day for the final round of the Dean & Deluca In­vi­ta­tional. In the back-end of a Texas two-step af­ter the By­ron Nel­son last week, Spi­eth was at 12-un­der 198, a stroke ahead of Colo­nial mem­ber Palmer and Webb Simp­son.

“It will be a fun dy­namic,” said Spi­eth, who shot a 5-un­der 65 on Satur­day, even while miss­ing a lot of fair­ways and a few greens. “It’ll be cool be­cause as a mem­ber, he’ll have tons of sup­port and we have had tons of sup­port this week.”

Spi­eth, who has seven PGA Tour wins, was alone in the lead af­ter three birdies and a huge par save in a four-hole stretch in the mid­dle of his round. The 22-year- old Dal­las na­tive tied for sec­ond at Ho­gan’s Al­ley last year, one of his three run­ner-up fin­ishes in the Lone Star State.

Palmer over­came con­sec­u­tive early bo­geys to shoot 66. Simp­son shot 67 af­ter 3-foot par putt at the 18th hole for a share of the lead lipped out of the cup — much like Palmer’s short birdie chance there in the pre­vi­ous three­some, though Palmer will be in the final two­some.

“I was so sick and dis­ap­pointed with the putt I hit on 18, be­cause that was what I wanted,” Palmer said. “I wanted to be with him in the final group on my home course in front of my fam­ily and friends and in front of the mem­bers of Colo­nial.”

Spi­eth hit only three of 14 fair­ways and 11 of 18 greens in reg­u­la­tion. He drove into the rough and was short of the green on his ap­proach at No. 18, but held his hand over his mouth in some dis­be­lief af­ter his nine-foot par chance slid by the hole for his only bo­gey.

Af­ter a 12-foot birdie at No. 9 to make the turn at 10 un­der, Spi­eth’s ap­proach at No. 10 went over the green be­fore a wedge shot to about 9 feet and mak­ing that putt to save par. He then chipped in from off the front of the green at the 615-yard 11th and hit his ap­proach within a foot at the 12th for an­other birdie and stayed along at top of the leader­board af­ter that.

“Felt like I struck the ball well, got off to a good start again and then short game re­ally kept me in it in the mid­dle of the round. So, my scram­bling was kind of the key,” Spi­eth said. “The up-and­down at 10, that was one of the worst lies I’ve had in the rough in a long time.”

Spi­eth went into the final round last week­end at the Nel­son alone in sec­ond place be­fore a clos­ing 74 that left him tied for 18th in the Irv­ing event where six years ago he played his first PGA Tour as a 16-year- old am­a­teur and tied for 16th.

Palmer, who turns 40 in Septem­ber, got the last of his three PGA Tour vic­to­ries in 2010. He missed the cut last year at Colo­nial.

“This week I told my­self I was just go­ing to kind of keep my eye down the mid­dle of the fair­way, just fist bump, shake hands with the kids go­ing from tee to green,” Palmer said. “But not en­gage as much and just kind of stay fo­cused and work on the task at hand.”

Simp­son had bo­geys on two par 3s, but fol­lowed both with birdies, in­clud­ing the blast from a bunker into the cup at No. 14.

Martin Piller, in the final group with Spi­eth and Simp­son for the third round, had to play 12 holes ear­lier in the day to com­plete the sec­ond round that had been sus­pended by dark­ness Fri­day af­ter a 5 ½ -hour weather de­lay.

Adam Had­win (70) of Ab­bots­ford, B.C., David Hearn (73) of Brant­ford, Ont., and Nick Tay­lor (73), also of Ab­bots­ford, are the Cana­di­ans in the field.

TONY GUTIERREZ / THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Jordan Spi­eth watches his shot onto the ninth green dur­ing the third round of the Dean & Deluca Invitational tour­na­ment at Colo­nial Satur­day.

BEN NOEY JR./ FORT WORTH STAR-TELE­GRAM/ TNS

Ryan Palmer could have the edge play­ing his home course to­day.

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