Spieth still on top, but faces Masters showdown with McIlroy
AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Maybe one of these days, someone other than Jordan Spieth will be leading the Masters.
The 22-year-old Texan battled through blustery conditions to take a one-stroke edge over Rory McIlroy to Saturday's third round, making Spieth the first player in the history of Augusta National to have the lead all to himself in six straight rounds.
He was on top from wire to wire a year ago, capturing his first green jacket in romp, and he's held the top spot through the first 36 holes this year.
"I have two more days to give it everything I have, and that's what we'll do, just to try to keep myself right on top," Spieth said.
While he was comfortably in front at this point a year ago, McIlroy figures to provide much stiffer competition. A four-time major champion, he needs only the Masters to claim the career Grand Slam.
"I'd rather be playing with someone less threatening, to be honest," Spieth said. "He's certainly proven himself in majors. But I think it's going to be fun, a really fun challenge."
Here's what to watch for Saturday at the Masters:
HOLD ON TO YOUR HAT: There were gusts up to 30 mph during the second round, which created one of the toughest scoring days in recent Masters memory. Only four players got into the red, and no one broke 70 for the first time since the third round of the frigid 2007 tournament.
Look for it to be even more blustery in the third round, with a forecast that called for sunny skies and a sustained breeze of 20 mph.
"It is just very difficult with the pin positions and the wind blowing," said 58-year-old Bernhard Langer, the oldest player to make the cut.
RORY FROM SECOND: McIlroy has won three major titles when leading at the midway point. He had commanding leads after the second round at both the 2011 U.S. Open and 2014 British Open, and he was up by a stroke heading to the third round of the 2014 PGA Championship.
But McIlroy does have some experience coming from behind on the weekend. At the 2012 PGA Championship, he was two shots off the 36-hole lead at Kiawah Island. He took command with a third-round 67, and went on to an eight-stroke victory.
WORLD NO. 1: Jason Day came into the Masters as the world's top-ranked player and betting favorite.
He's got some work to do, failing to break par in either of the first two rounds.
The Aussie, coming off his first major title at the 2015 PGA, has struggled mightily since shooting a 5-under 31 on the first nine holes. He's 6 over for his last 27 holes and desperately needs to get some momentum going.
AMATEUR HOUR: Bryson DeChambeau had a rocky finish to the second round, taking a triple-bogey 7 after he yanked his first tee shot into a holly bush, had to tee off again, and hit the next one even farther left, winding up against a fence.
The 22-year-old amateur still managed his second straight 72, leaving him just four shots off the lead heading to the weekend.
No amateur has ever won the Masters, but DeChambeau doesn't seem the least bit intimidated.
"I was hitting it really well, and that ultimately allowed me to perform at a high level, one that I know I can play in any golf tournament," he said. "And I think that if I can stay that way and keep performing at the high level, I think you know the rest."
BUBBA'S STILL ALIVE: Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson slipped through to the weekend after Spieth bogeyed two of the last three holes Friday.
Watson was the only player to benefit from the rule which calls for any player within 10 shots of the lead to make the cut. He was 6-over 150 after his second straight 75, and a dozen shots behind Spieth when the leader birdied the 15th.
After the young Texan stumbled down the stretch, Watson got a chance to play two more rounds.
Another left-hander wasn't so fortunate. Three-time winner Phil Mickelson missed the cut for only the third time in 24 Masters appearances, his chances ruined when he dumped two balls in the water for back-to-back double-bogeys at 15 and 16. He gave himself a chance with a birdie at the 17th, only to miss a 22-foot birdie try at the final hole.