PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland – Jordan Spieth is in contention to win his second British Open despite playing army golf around Royal Portrush.
Spieth’s right, left, right approach added up to a second-round 4-under 67 to move him to 5 under after 36 holes. He was just three shots off the lead when he walked off the 18th hole.
The 2017 champion might be leading on his own if he’d managed to hit more than just five fairways. Or if he’d taken advantage of two birdie putts inside 15 feet on the last two holes.
The 25-year-old wasn’t heading to the practice putting green when he finished.
“I found the rough more than I did yesterday,” Spieth said. “At some point, I hope to be playing off the short grass this week.”
The army approach was most obvious on the par-4 14th hole. Spieth hit his drive into the right-hand rough. He missed the green left and was faced with a horrible 65-yard pitch to a raised green with hardly any green between himself and the flag. He played a good shot to 15 feet right of the pin, but walked off with one of two bogeys he made in the round.
The three-time major winner is a long way off the form that made him the 2017 Champion Golfer of the Year.
“Going into Birkdale I was hitting it tee to green the best on tour. My game is in a different place to where it was then.
“I posted a score that was pretty incredible for where I played my second shots from.”
In addition to his win at Royal Birkdale, Spieth tied for fourth at St. Andrews in 2015 and finished T-9 at Carnoustie last year.
“I need to be looking at the positives of my history in this tournament, and my history in major championships versus focussing on anything else,” he said. “If I can kind of walk tall knowing that there’s very few people who’ve been in this situation contending on the weekend in majors as many times as I have, that’s certainly a confidence boost.”
He’ll just need to make sure he walks tall down the centrt of Royal Portrush’s fairways. Spieth surely can’t get away with two more days of army golf.