Merritt plots conservative Sunday

Troy Merritt overcame a mid-round double bogey to open a three-shot lead ahead of the fourth day at the RBC Heritage.

The American shot a two-under 69 in the opening round, then equaled the tournament record of 61 on the second day.

He carded another 69 on Thursday, with four birdies and double bogey on the eighth hole taking his overall score to 14-under.

Brendon Todd, Kevin Kisner and Matt Kuchar are tied for second on 11-under, after respective scores of 63, 67 and 68.

Merritt says he intends to take a low-risk approach in Sunday’s final round and make the trio chase him.

“I think it will be nice playing in the final round this time around. It will be nice to see what everybody else is doing, the guys closest to me,” he told the PGA Tour website.

“(I’ll) just play solid golf. Put as much pressure on them as I can, make them try and take some risks, and just try and make pars, throw in an occasional birdie, and make them come and get me.”

Todd, Kisner and Kuchar will not be the only trio chasing hard on Sunday. Brice Garnett, Branden Grace and Jim Furyk are tied for fifth on ten under and in with a shout of catching up to the overnight leader.

The same can be said about Bo van Pelt and Masters Tournament champion Jordan Spieth, who are tied for eighth on nine-under.

Spieth carded a three-over 74 in his first round, but overcame his “Masters Hangover” to shoot 62 on Friday and a 68 on Saturday.

The 21-year-old is happy to play the role of aggressor in the final round, and believes he could still finish near the summit of the leaderboard

“I’m going to be really aggressive. If it doesn’t work out … then it was still a great stretch. And if I get out there and hit the shots that I want to hit, then I’ve got a possibility of contending again,” he said.

“Anything can happen on a course like this. And there are 8- and 9-under rounds out there. You just have to have the right breaks.”

Should he win on Sunday, Spieth will become the first Masters champion to win the RBC Heritage since Bernhard Langer in 1985.