Spieth contends in first Players foray
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – At this point, we shouldn’t be surprised that 20-year-old Jordan Spieth continues to amaze. His latest exploit: a bogey-free 6-under 66 in the second round of The Players to climb into the final group Saturday with 36-hole leader Martin Kaymer. Spieth trails by one stroke with a total of 11-under 133.
Does it bother him, he was asked, that his age is attached to his name like an appendage in nearly every story.
“It was '19-year-old' last year,” he said, “so I’m actually curious how long it will go before they think I’m too old.”
His play isn’t getting old, perhaps boring in its consistency. For the second straight day, Spieth hit 11 of 14 fairways in regulation, 13 of 18 greens in regulation and needed 26 putts to complete his round, the lowest score of the day. He’s the only player in the field who has avoided making a bogey. It doesn’t hurt that his ball striking has been impeccable: all of his six birdies came from inside 10 feet. On the few occasions when he missed, Spieth rescued pars with his putter at Nos. 3, 9 and 10, but overall, “It was pretty stress-free,” he said.
About the only stress he experienced was nearly acing the par-3 13th hole with a 6-iron that caught the ridge and headed straight for the hole.
“I thought it might hit the pin,” he said. “By the crowd's reaction, I knew it was getting close.”
It rolled 4 feet past the cup and he brushed it in. One hole later, he had 184 yards from the fairway with a little wind off the left. He stuck it 3 feet this time.
“It was the same exact shot I hit on 13 with a 6-iron,” he said.
Spieth is a rookie at The Players, but it’s not his first time playing a tournament here. As a contestant at the 2010 Junior Players Championship, Spieth took dead aim at the 17th in the final round, stuffed it to 3 feet and made the birdie. Then he waited at 18, hoping for a playoff, and watched unheralded Michael Johnson pour in a 20-footer on the last hole to beat him.
Of his pin-seeking missile at 17 that day, Spieth said, “That may be the worst thing that could have happened come Sunday this week, knowing that I have pulled it off before. I may think I can do it again when it’s maybe not the smart choice. But hopefully we’re in that position.”
If he has a shot to win, who would really be surprised?