Putting, wind keep Jordan Spieth’s 68 from being special
Coming off a disappointing missed cut at the Masters, Jordan Spieth is halfway to his first top-25 finish since Pebble Beach.
Spieth carded a 3-under 68 in gusty conditions Friday at Harbour Town to move into a share of eighth at the RBC Heritage.
“We knew it was going to be really challenging just hitting balls [in this wind] … and it’s just really tricky around this place because sometimes down around the trees you either don’t feel anything or you feel the opposite,” Spieth said. “So, you certainly want to be comfortable before hitting each shot. I felt like I drove the ball extremely well. … and I played aggressively too, so I had a lot of wedges, which if you’re a little off there, it’s obviously a lot better than hitting more club in. Still got to get that putter to heat up. It felt better today, it’s just I left quite a few putts short. I think they were slower with the wind.
“But overall I played a really good round of golf that could have been special.”
Spieth led the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green for Round 2, gaining just over five shots on the field. However, he also ranked No. 82 in strokes gained: putting, giving more than half a shot back.
He took just 26 putts, but he only amassed 38 feet of them.
“I made good strokes today,” said Spieth, who began the week 180th on Tour in strokes gained: putting. “Yesterday was kind of the same as the last few weeks where it wasn’t really committed and such, but made really nice strokes today. That’s going to be the key is I think just hitting them a little harder, adjusting the speed, not being afraid of the 3- or 4-footer coming back.”
Through nine holes, Spieth was even par with just a birdie on the par-5 second. But he got 10- and 7-footers for birdie to drop on Nos. 10 and 13, respectively, and he didn’t even need the putter at No. 12.
After finding the sand with his approach at the par-4 12th, Spieth holed his next shot from just under 30 yards.
“It wasn’t a hard bunker shot, but obviously a bonus for it to go in,” Spieth said. “Right when I hit it, I thought it was good, maybe had enough to get a little past the hole, and ended up checking up nicely and rolling right in. At that time, I felt like I was playing a 3- or 4-under round and I was only 1 under. So stealing one back kind of, I think, settled me down. Then I didn’t try to force anything coming in.”
At 5 under, Spieth is on the first page of the leaderboard, though he also is four shots back of leader Patrick Cantlay, who birdied each of his last four holes to pull two clear of the field.
“Patrick birdieing his last four separates, obviously, him from the field and somebody who’s won plenty of golf tournaments,” Spieth said. “It’s going to be probably a more aggressive mentality over the weekend.”