AUGUSTA, Ga. —
"Bubba at this point is keeping me in it," U.S. Open champion Justin Rose said after his 69, leaving him only four shots behind. "There's a lot of players with a chance tomorrow. Anybody under par going into tomorrow has a good shot."
That would not include defending champion Adam Scott, who might have thrown away his hopes with a 40 on the front nine that led to a 76. He was six shots behind.
Spieth fell in love with Augusta National the first time he saw it last October, during a two-day golfing trip that started at Pine Valley. He has leaned on two-time champion and fellow Texas Longhorn Ben Crenshaw in practice rounds, and he met with six-time champion Jack Nicklaus on Wednesday to learn as much as he could.
The kid is a quick study.
He didn't even have a PGA Tour card at this time last year. Since then, he won the John Deere Classic, became the youngest American to play in the Presidents Cup when Fred Couples made him a captain's pick, and had a chance in the final hour to win the FedEx Cup and its $10 million prize.
Phil Mickelson might have seen this coming. He was paired with Spieth the last day of the Deutsche Bank Championship in September, when the kid shot 62. Mickelson called Couples and said, "Dude, you've got to pick this guy."
Now, the young Texan has a good shot to join them in the champions' locker room.