Spieth's Augusta dream in sight


AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Under a fading Georgia sun, standing with hands on hips on a knoll overlooking the 18th green, Steven Spieth was looking at more than the giant Masters scoreboard that reported his older brother held a share of the lead.

He was looking at his childhood.

"I'm at a loss for words seeing that," he said.

Jordan Spieth predicted this would happen, of course. As a boy, he would putt with Steven on the makeshift green in the family's front yard in Dallas, a small green Jordan would maintain with the lawn mower, his kid brother said, "when he was barely old enough to use it."

This was Jordan's personal gateway to Augusta National and a chance to become the youngest winner this tournament's ever seen. "He would be standing on that green, across from me," Steven Spieth said Saturday, "and I can still hear him saying, 'This putt is to win the Masters.'"

Jordan, 20, might just have that putt somewhere on Sunday's back nine. He'll go off at 5-under with Bubba Watson, who started the third round with a three-shot lead and a four-shot advantage over Spieth, who saw this day coming as a 12-year-old confident enough to tell his coach, Cameron McCormick, that he wanted to win the Masters and become the best player in the world.

Steven, 19, stood out among the family and friends who trailed Spieth on his march toward history. First, he is a 6-foot-6 forward for the Brown University basketball team who averaged 8.2 points and 5.5 rebounds as a freshman and was named Ivy League rookie of the week more than once. Second, he lived the dream with Jordan on that green in the front yard, and on the basketball hoop at the end of their slanted driveway that was the site of one-on-ones rarely shaped by any brotherly love.

Start with the green. Early in the mornings, before heading off to middle school, Jordan and Steven would start challenging each other with their wedges from all kinds of creative places.

"We hit from everywhere," Steven said. "Our yard. Our neighbor's yard. Over the neighbor's tree. Across the street and one house over, maybe 100 yards away. All the neighbors had kids around the same age, so sometimes we'd do that all day."

Then head over to the basketball hoop. Generously listed by the PGA Tour at 6-foot-1, Jordan was smart enough to get Steven when the getting was good.

"The last time we played was eighth or ninth grade, when he was still bigger than me," Steven said. "That was the last time he beat me, and he wouldn't play me after that. He knew he wouldn't beat me again."

Steven kept smiling over the faraway memories Saturday evening as he faced that white scoreboard at 18. His brother had just saved par out of a fairway bunker to preserve his round of 2-under 70 and his place in Sunday's final group.

"My heart's beating," Steven said.

Beating faster than it would before a big free throw against Harvard or Princeton.

"That's pretty awesome seeing that right there," Steven said of the scoreboard that had Spieth and Watson at the top with their red-number fives. "He's in the last group ... It's unexplainable. This whole week's been amazing."

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