And here he is, one shot out of the lead, and knowing that his work is not done.
The 26-year-old Listowel, Ont., native responded to the pressure of holding a lead on the weekend by shooting a 3-under 68 to retain a one-stroke advantage over Tiger Woods and others heading into Sunday's final round.
Spieth, the 2015 Valspar Championship victor, shot a 5-over 76 and is tied for 122nd in the 144 player field.
"We've got a long way to go", Woods said. Former PGA champion Jimmy Walker reached 6 under with four birdies on his first five holes, only to lose ground the rest of the way for a 71.
Woods has been slowed by mistakes, some leading to big numbers the last time he played at the Honda Classic. His ball landed next to a tree that would impede his follow through.
Conners managed just fine, taking advantage of a tournament he wasn't sure he would be playing. I'm starting to get a better feel for it, I'm finding the rhythm of the rounds, I'm hitting shots, I don't have a problem posting scores.
"He's a huge draw and he plays good this week and the excitement going into the Masters is going to be massive because I don't know if any of us were really thinking he was a true favorite there and he might be after one more round of golf", Adam Scott said.
Tiger Woods will wake up Sunday with a real chance at winning his first PGA Tour event in nearly five years.
Just over five months ago, Woods still didn't have the clearance to begin hitting full shots, much less playing without restrictions. "The more time he has, he's going to feel better". He also came up well short on the 12th into a strong wind.
"Anybody else outside of golf, you're still doing what you know you're better at than them", he said.
Conners, the Canadian rookie in only his 17th start on the PGA Tour as a pro, saved par from the bunker on the par-3 17th and kept his cool when his ball moved slightly on the 18th green - no longer a penalty in those circumstances - before he tapped in for par. It would be a special time for golf if the two veterans went back to back.
The only unnerving moment came at the 16th, when he tugged his iron off the tee into the trees.
Woods and Brandt Snedeker (68) will be in the group in front of them, with thousands of fans lining the fairways and surrounding the greens.
"I'm up there", Woods said.
"It's a really, really good grind out here, " Woods said. On the next hole, the par-4 10th, Woods rolled in a 22-footer for birdie to briefly seize a share of the lead.
"This is a very hard golf course". Not too often in Florida do you find elevation.
His health is a far cry from this time previous year, when he says he could barely climb out of bed. He was loose and chatty in his Wednesday Pro-Am round, but the crowd got to see his tournament game face Thursday as he tried to figure out the Copperhead course.