Spieth's 62 vaults him into contention
April 17, 2015
By Robert Gillespie, Special to PGATOUR.COM
- April 17, 2015
- Jordan Spieth's bogey-free 62 at Harbour Town moved him from T93 to inside the top 10 at the RBC Heritage. (Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – So it’s probably safe to say that Jordan Spieth’s “Masters hangover” is officially at an end.
The newly crowned Masters champion torched his final 14 holes Friday at Harbour Town Golf Links going 8-under as he charged from Thursday afterthought to contender at the RBC Heritage.
His 9-under 62 propelled the 21-year-old into a share for third place, two shots behind Friday playing partner and defending RBC Heritage champion Matt Kuchar during the morning wave. Kuchar shot a not-shabby 5-under 66 to get to 8-under after 36 holes.
Spieth's 62 was just a shot off the tournament single-round record 61 set by David Frost in 1994. That record was matched Friday by Troy Merritt who leads by four.
“(I) found something in my ball position on the range this morning, and it made a significant difference in my ball-striking and in my putting,” Spieth said in a classic example of understatement.
In fact, Spieth’s round very easily could’ve been even lower; he missed birdie putts from inside 15 feet on holes 11, 12 and 13 after an opening-round birdie at 10. Then came a streak of brilliance, including a chip-in for birdie at the par-4 eighth hole, that drew fans from all over Harbour Town, turning his already-large gallery into a moving mass of humanity.
When he was done, after a terrific approach at the par-4 ninth set up a short birdie putt, Spieth had vaulted from T93 after Friday’s 74 into a share of third with five other players, including first-round co-leader Matt Every, and sat just two strokes off the lead. He's currently six shots off Troy Merritt's lead.
His weary-looking first round, Spieth said, motivated him “a lot. I don’t want to go home early. I knew that with today’s conditions being easier (after Thursday’s blustery winds calmed to light breezes), I needed to shoot at least 2-under.
“I told (caddie) Michael (Greller) when the day started, hey, let’s try to get three (strokes) a side. Let’s try to shoot six(-under) today. And once we got a couple extra to go, it was off and running and don’t worry about your score; just keep on trying to make birdies.”
It was something of a repeat of his first two rounds at Augusta National a week earlier, when Spieth grabbed the first-day lead with a 64 and never let go.
He also found inspiration in the play of Kuchar. “For Kooch to be leading, and to play alongside the leader and see what he’s doing, it helps to feed off that,” he said. “The hole looked bigger out there with the putts he was making, and I was just trying to keep up.
“At one point I said (to his caddie), let’s just try and catch Kooch now. If we keep our foot down and play our game, let’s go catch Matt.”
Kuchar concurred that the energy each brought to the round was contagious. But that, he said, should be no surprise, given Spieth’s recent run of two victories and a pair of runner-up finishes.
“He’s playing fantastic golf,” Kuchar said. “He’s done a great job of maintaining. I was surprised to see (Thursday) not go as well for him ... so I was happy to see that he got it rolling.
“What a draw (for fans) he is, and now to have him right in contention is awesome. I think it’s great for the tournament. I’m sure he’s not going to have much of a problem keeping the momentum.”
Justin Thomas, Spieth’s friend and roommate this week, credited his buddy’s win last week with sparking him to his own improvement on the leaderboard after Friday’s 67.
“It’s pretty inspiring,” he said. “Obviously it’s fine for every event but especially the Masters. ... I was happy for him and it’s definitely motivating to me to try to get where he is and battle it out with him.”
By week’s end, Spieth’s resurgence could be all that, and more.
Jordan Spieth makes 40-foot birdie chip shot at RBC Heritage