5 Things: Spieth, Walker build Pebble lead

Jordan Spieth during the second round of the PGA Tour's 2014 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Jordan Spieth during the second round of the PGA Tour's 2014 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

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PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – According to the weatherman, Friday was supposed to be the better weather day than Thursday. It wasn’t. Drizzle changed to rain; temperatures cooled to the mid 50s; zero sun and wind created havoc on all three courses – and some high scores.

All three courses played over par, with Pebble Beach playing the hardest on Friday with a stroke average of 74.173, followed by Spyglass at 73.192 and Monterey Peninsula at 71.346.

But even with the high scores, some played well. Ryan Palmer was low man with a 5-under 66 at Monterey Peninsula Country Club. Frenchman Victor Dubuisson crafted a 5-under, 67 at Pebble Beach and David Duval, Dudley Hart and Kevin Na recorded 4-under 66s at Spyglass Hill.

But it is Jordan Spieth’s 4-under 67 that stands as the highlight of the second round.

Here are 5 Things you need to know from Pebble Beach.

• • •

1. ROOKIE NO MORE: Jordan Spieth has been in the mix in two of his three events since the calendar turned the page to 2014.

At the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, Spieth was either tied for first or second all four rounds while finishing second to Zach Johnson.

In San Diego at the Farmers Insurance Open, Spieth was leading after 36 holes and tied for second after three rounds, but lost his swing on Sunday while finishing T-19.

Spieth said Wednesday that he had fixed the issue, with help from his coach Cameron McCormick.

Consecutive 67’s proved that Spieth was telling the truth and for the second time in three events the 20-year-old is leading at the halfway mark on the PGA Tour with FedEx Cup leader Jimmy Walker.

“We have been talking a lot through on how to maybe handle it better and not try and look at too many of the leaderboards and just focus on exactly what we did the first two days, and that's just have having a great time out there with those guys,” Spieth said of the direction he has been receiving from his coach especially after his mini-collapse at Torrey Pines. “I'm playing well enough, my putter feels great on these poa annua greens. I got a lot of confidence right now, and so if I'm in the right mindset, and I'm not getting too upset with myself and not focusing on really the score, then it should be a successful weekend.”

Spieth will play late, teeing off at 10:01 a.m. PST Saturday at Pebble Beach, with conditions forecast to be worse than the first two days.

But Spieth seems unconcerned with the potential difficult conditions.

“In Texas we get strong winds,” Spieth said. “We don't typically get rain. When it rains, it's a thunderstorm and we can't play golf. So, but, we get winds like this, it's nothing new; and it gets cold and windy. And it has been this winter when I've been practicing.”

• • •

2. A FRENCH TOAST: Given that it’s just his second golf tournament on American soil and his first visit to Pebble Beach, one can forgive Victor Dubuisson for not appearing to know how special a round he had just scripted.

Offered congratulations on a round of 5-under 67, the 23-year-old Frenchman smiled and said, “Thank you.”

Told that it was the best round of the day at this iconic golf course – by two strokes, no less – Dubuisson wore a look of surprise. Then he smiled and said indeed: “It was a good day, yes.”

Oui, and to appreciate just how splendid the young Frenchman played, digest the numbers. He was more than seven strokes better than the field average at Pebble Beach (74.173). Only two other golfers – Jamie Lovemark and Daniel Summerhays, both with 69 – broke 70.

In all, only 10 of 52 competitors bettered par at Pebble Beach.

Only one golfer had a lower score than Dubuisson, but Ryan Palmer posted his 66 at Monterey Peninsula, where the field average was 71.364. Jordan Spieth matched Dubuisson's 67, but the young Texan played Spyglass Hill, where the field average was 73.195.

Dubuisson had made his American debut two weeks ago when he finished T-59 at the Farmers Insurance Open. Friday, he carded one of three birdies at the 418-yard, par-4 eighth. But he put an exclamation point on his splendid round when he slammed a 311-yard drive at the 18th, then hit a 4-iron from 217 yards into a stiff wind to 22 feet.

Two putts later, the sponsor exemption had his sixth birdie of the day and at 3-under 140 he moved into a share of 28th, six off the lead.

• • •

3. LOSING HIS MOJO: Like many golfers, Phil Mickelson struggles with parts of his game at times. During the last year, his swing has been his Achilles heel at times. But since the beginning of the year, his issue has been the flat stick – and it was very evident during Friday’s second round with 32 putts, which included two three putts, at Pebble Beach.

The first three-putt was from 6 feet on the par-3 second hole; the second was from 51 feet on the 18th.

“Tee to green I'm playing very well, but I haven't putted this poorly in a year,” Mickelson said after recording a 1-over 73. “I've been putting very well for quite some time and it's just been off. And for the way I'm hitting it, it's a little disappointing, because I should have a really good opportunity. And I'll have to turn it around. It's in the too-late, but I've got to get it turned around here.”

Mickelson’s scorecard looked a little scrambled with a double bogey, three bogeys and four birdies during a day everyone found difficult.

“It's sometimes a fun challenge to play out here and as the reigning Scottish and British Open champion,” Mickelson said. “I don't really mind the elements, but I do have to get this putter worked out.”

• • •

4. I LOVE THIS WEATHER: Peyton Manning is less than a week removed from a 43-8 blow out loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl 48.

Manning arrived Tuesday from the cold tundra of New Jersey and came to sunny California to play golf. After two days of rain, wind and cool weather in the 50s, Manning had to believe he was still in New Jersey or Denver, but its just Pebble Beach and Manning seemed unfazed, as you would expect from a NFL quarterback

“Really it was pretty decent most of the day,” Manning said of the difficult weather Friday. “It started raining a little toward the end, but it was actually a pretty pleasant day I thought for the most part, except for the last couple holes.”

Playing with second year PGA Tour pro Scott Langley, the team is in the middle of the pack, which didn’t seem to matter to him.

“I played in this event once before, and obviously it's a great tournament,’ Manning said. “It's for a great cause. I was glad to get invited to play. “

• • •

5. SHORT SHOTS: Rory Sabbatini and Blake Mycoskie, the Founder of TOMS shoes, is atop the leaderboard of the Pro-Am team standings at 23 under, six shots ahead of the teams of Geoff Ogilvy/Gregg Tryhus and Brice Garnett/James Hinton. . . . Only two players had bogey-free rounds: Troy Merritt and Jimmy Walker both shot 69. In comparison the 17 bogey-free rounds in Thursday’s first round included Walker’s 66. . . . Defending champion Brandt Snedeker is tied for 96th after his second consecutive 72. . . . David Duval shot a 4-under 68 and is tied for 17th, five shots off the lead.

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