Spieth sets up career Grand Slam chase
May 17, 2019
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
Jordan Spieth comments after Round 2 of the PGA Championship
Following a second-round 66, Jordan Spieth reflects on his play at the 2019 PGA Championship.
FARMINGDALE, N.Y. – Everything that is old is new again… or is it?
Former FedExCup champion Jordan Spieth revived memories of his dominant times with a putting masterclass at Bethpage Black on Friday, but the question becomes whether or not the 11-time PGA TOUR winner can keep it up.
Spieth needed just 23 putts to shoot a second round 4-under 66 and move to 5-under at the PGA Championship, the only major missing in his quest for the career Grand Slam.
It moved him into second place on the leaderboard after the morning wave, two shots adrift of Brooks Koepka’s first round lead.
Jordan Spieth's 39-foot birdie putt at PGA Championship
Spieth has been without a top-10 on the PGA TOUR since he lost the 54-hole lead at the 2018 Open Championship last July to finish T9. He hasn’t won since the 2017 Open Championship.
During the lean times, the Texas native has had issues with both his swing and his putting, particularly from short range.
However, in two rounds at Bethpage Black, he’s 30 of 31 from inside 10 feet, reviving memories of 2015 where he won five TOUR events, including the Masters and U.S. Open, as well as the FedExCup.
“(Putting is) probably 90 percent back to when I was at my best, and the only difference maker is I think just speed control,” Spieth said.
“Speed control has still been just a little bit iffy… but I feel as good or better 15 feet and in. I feel like I'm where I should be. I've put a lot of thought and work into it, and the putting feels good.”
Spieth made six birdie putts Friday, including one from 39 feet and another from 20 feet.
“It was a bonus to have the right reads and the right pace and with some of the putts I made today, I don't expect to putt as well as I did today, each and every day. It's just not possible,” he added.
“But it feels consistent enough to where the good days are like they were today, and off days, I'm still rolling some good putts and still coming away with some confidence.”
Jordan Spieth sinks 20-foot birdie putt at PGA Championship
This weekend, he will need every bit of the confidence he’s built.
While Spieth’s opening two rounds this season have been fine, his weekend play that has let him down.
Coming into the week, Spieth’s round one scoring average was 69.83, and his second-round average was 68.33. But it drops to 71.67 for the third round and 73.11 in final rounds.
Spieth claims the numbers speak to luck in the early parts of tournaments rather than poor play on the back end.
“This is different. I don't feel the same. I feel like the way I scored was actually the way that I played, and any time I was in a situation where it maybe looked like I was contending, it didn't feel like it this year so far,” he said.
The key, he says, was being able to trust tighter targets with his swing. But with just 15 of 28 fairways hit through two rounds, and just nine of the 18 greens in regulation on Friday, he will need to be even better to have a shot at being just the sixth man to win all four majors in a career.
“Ball just needs to find the fairway as often as it was for the guys around me; DJ, Brooks... It's not going to be as far as theirs, so I'd better be in as many fairways,” Spieth said.
“I’m 100 percent not hitting it as well as I did a couple years ago, but I’m hitting it a lot better than I did the end of last year, beginning of this year.”
And will the career Grand Slam enter his thoughts?
“It certainly hasn't. I can't imagine it will because I haven't been in contention on a Sunday since The Open last year,” the 25-year-old said.
“If I'm able to put some good work in tomorrow, then I will be in contention on Sunday. And at that point, it will be just more of trying to win a golf tournament. It won't matter to me what tournament it is. I'll be pleased to be in contention, knowing that the work I put in from being pretty far off has really come back nicely on a very difficult golf course.”
Jordan Spieth's near ace on No. 17 at PGA Championship