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August 24 2013

6:06 PM

Spieth looking to play 'smart golf'

Carroll/Getty Images
Spieth is ranked eighth in the FedExCup.

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- Jordan Speith's debut at The Barclays didn't exactly get off to a great start when he double-bogeyed his first hole on Friday.

The 20-year-old phenom has put himself in position for a very good finish, though, with a second-straight round of 68 on Saturday that moved him to 7 under for the tournament and trailing the leaders by five.

Spieth won his first PGA TOUR event last month -- and nearly picked up his second title last Sunday at the Wyndham Championship before losing to Patrick Reed on the second hole of sudden death. He came into his first FedExCup Playoffs ranked eighth and likely has a path into the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola regardless of how he plays in the first three events.

Spieth currently has 1,436 points and according to projections, players who get to 1,600 points are likely safe. So with points quintupled in the Playoffs, the talented Texan doesn't have far to go.

But Spieth's strategy is simple -- and doesn't require a calculator or a calculus degree.

"Just go out there and get on top of the leaderboard and try to make some birdies," he said.

For the last 45 holes, that's exactly what Spieth has done, too. He shot 3 over on his first nine but has made 13 birdies, one eagle and just five bogeys since to put himself in a tie for sixth. 

Spieth has hit 31 of 42 fairways this week, as well as 36 of 54 greens in regulation. He only hit nine greens on Saturday but his putter kept him honest, as he used just 24 and had 11 one-putts, including a 20-footer to save par at the driveable 16 that was marred by what he called "three really bad decisions in a row."

"My putter felt really, really great in this round," Spieth said. "... I was thinking about my speed control, hitting very solid on these greens and I was able to control the pace."

Spieth, who grew up Dallas, said he hoped the wind that has dried out the slick greens would pick up on Sunday, but he doesn't really think that will happen. 

"I'm going to have to play smart golf tomorrow, and obviously a round like I shot today is going to be a really good round," Spieth said. "I don't think it ends up winning tomorrow, but I think I go out with the goal to try to hit as many greens as possible and focus on my speed to try to post a few under and see what happens."

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