Jordan Spieth's pre-Masters run of extraordinary golf continued Saturday as the 21-year-old Texas native shot a 5-under-par 67, giving him a one-shot lead over three players through 54 holes of the Houston Open.
A victory Sunday would be Spieth's third on the PGA Tour and make him the second youngest, after Tiger Woods, with three titles since 1940.
Spieth sank a 41-foot birdie putt from just off the green on the par-3 16th, to get to 14 under par, where he finished.
"Today was as comfortable as I've ever been with the lead on a weekend," Spieth said. "I wanted to get into contention as much as I could prior to the Masters, to have as much experience as I could to limit those nerves. This feels really good. [Sunday] I'll certainly have nerves, but hopefully I'll give myself a chance to win. Then I'll take even more confidence into next week."
Austin Cook, a Monday qualifier for the event, is tied for second at 203 with first-round leader Scott Piercy and Johnson Wagner. Andrew Putnam, the 36-hole leader, struggled to a 75.
Piercy tied the tournament-course record with an opening 63 but ballooned to 74 Friday, only to bounce back with a third-round 66. Wagner got back into contention with a 67.
Phil Mickelson, who began the day in sceond place, birdied his first hole before a double bogey on the par-4 fifth hole and bogeys on the last three holes left him with a 75, six strokes back.
Spieth has had four top-10 finishes in five starts but said he didn't think he was on "a run."
"Honestly, I look at this as the way I should be playing," he said. "If I look at it as a run, it means the normal me is something less."
Sei Young Kim of South Korea sank two key birdies on the final five holes for a three-stroke lead in the ANA Inspiration in Rancho Mirage, Calif.
Kim shot a 3-under 69 to reach 10 under at Mission Hills with one round left in the first major championship of the year.
Stacy Lewis was second after a 68 that included two bogeys and a 6-foot par miss over the last four holes. Morgan Pressel, Brittany Lincicome and Ariya Jutanugarn were 6 under. Lincicome drove into the water on 18 and closed with a 70. Pressel had a 71, and Jutanugarn shot 66.