McDowell six off the pace at Harbour Town
 Graeme McDowell 

Graeme McDowell 

Graeme McDowell had to dig deep on the back nine to keep his fading RBC Heritage hopes alive on Hilton Head Island.

A two over par front nine sent McDowell tumbling down the leaderboard but he sparked back to life coming home, especially on the greens.

After holing eight footers for birdies at the 10th and 13th, he curled a 26 footer home at the 14th and then got up and down from 144 yards for par after finding water with his second shot at the par-five 15th.

It all added up to a one under 70 that left McDowell tied for 10th on eight under and six shots behind overnight leader Troy Merritt, who shot 69 to take a three-stroke lead over defending champion Matt Kuchar (68), Brendon Todd (63) and Kevin Kisner (67).

Brice Garnett, South Africa Branden Grace and Jim Furyk are just four behind on 10 under.

“I was starting to feel the fear and being afraid, like I would when I was an amateur,” Merritt said of his nervousness during the day. "It's not a bad fear; it's the fear of being caught. And I think it's worked for me in the past."

Masters champion Jordan Spieth, who roared back into contention with a 62 on Friday, holed little but still shot a 68 to lie just five shots behind on nine under alongside Bo Van Pelt with McDowell one of seven players at eight under.

The 21-year-old Texan broke par for 18th time in his past 19 rounds and still believes he can following in the footsteps of Bernhard Langer, who in 1985 was the last man to win the week after claiming the Masters.

Can he win?

“There’s a low one out there and I think it’s certainly possible,” said Spieth, who could become world No 1 at the WGC Match Play but only if he triumphs at Harbour Town Golf Links today.