Sydney • Defending champion Jordan Spieth never looked like getting on track for a move up the leaderboard on Saturday, shooting a 1-under 70 to leave himself a daunting task to win his third Australian Open in four years.

His 54-hole total of 2-under 211 will likely leave him about eight strokes behind the leaders by the end of the round, the same as when he started.

Spieth bogeyed the fourth hole after three pars to open his round. He got that shot back with a birdie on the par-4 sixth, then needed putts of 12 feet and three feet to save par on the next two holes.

He hit wayward tee shots on the final three holes of the front nine, bogeying the ninth for a 1-over 36. On the back, he birdied the par-5 14th to get back to even par on the day, then added a tap-in birdie on the 18th.

When Spieth won his first Australian Open in 2014, he shot a then-course record 63 in the final round at The Australian to win by six shots.