Sydney: World number one Jordan Spieth brilliantly kept alive a successful defence of his title on Saturday with an eagle at the penultimate hole on day three of the Australian Open in Sydney.
The 22-year-old Texan kept himself well in contention when he fired off a 165-metre, 8-iron second shot into the hole of the par-four 17th.
It helped Spieth glide his way to an eventual round of 67, or four under par for a seven under par total.
The double major winner was in second place, just three shots behind Australia`s Matt Jones who had putted in off the green at the 17th for a birdie and then also birdied the last in a second straight score of 68 to finish at 10 under par.
Spieth had commenced his round bogeying three of his opening four holes to fall eight shots adrift of Jones but then ignited his drive to the top with birdies at five and six. He bogeyed at eight ahead of completing his last 10 holes in six under par.
"It was one of the best fought rounds I`ve had and I can remember as I was in position at the start of the day to make a bit of a move but then I became lazy in my decision-making as you saw with those early bogeys," Spieth said.
"So to completely rebound with that birdie on five was key as that settled me down so much as it was fantastic golf from there on."
Spieth arrived back to Australia having won six times in the intervening period, including capturing the Masters and US Open championships and he is determined to defend his title in Sydney.
"So what I need to do is to throw out thinking about the final round 63 I shot here in Sydney last year as I will now have to accept the battle will be tight as Matt (Jones) is a tough guy to chase," he said.
The 35-year-old Arizona-based Jones, who is chasing only a second pro career victory, was on the 16th fairway when he saw Spieth eagle the 17th and he responded with birdies also at 17 as well as the last.
"It would be fantastic if I won the Australian Open and it`s something I have thought about growing up and watching the likes of my boyhood hero Greg Norman winning this event," said Jones.
"So I am going to give it everything I can as I would love to have my name on that trophy alongside the likes of (Jack) Nicklaus, Norman and it would be amazing."
Jones is also in line to secure one of three places into next year`s Open Championship along with fellow Australian Rhein Gibson (68) in third place on five under par.
Fellow Australians Lincoln Tighe (70) and Aron Price (70) share fourth spot on four under par.