Jordan Spieth blends great irons, putting for Friday fireworks at Northern Trust

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Jordan Spieth blends great irons, putting for Friday fireworks at Northern Trust

PGA Tour

Jordan Spieth blends great irons, putting for Friday fireworks at Northern Trust

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Correction/clarification: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified one of the major championships Jordan Spieth has won. He has won the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open.

JERSEY CITY, N.J. – Jordan Spieth has a green jacket, a claret jug and a FedEx Cup back at his house in Texas, but none of those lovely things were won this season. Or last season. Spieth hasn’t hoisted a piece of hardware in over two years, and five days ago he finished the Wyndham Championship tied for 78th.

Working with Cameron McCormick, practice sessions before the start of this week’s Northern Trust were tough and nothing seemed to come easy, but thanks to great play off the tee, he was able to shoot a 4-under 67 on Thursday. That put him in the mix, three shots behind the overnight leader, Troy Merritt.

Then, as Spieth teed off on the 10th hole early Friday, with the course still soft after thunderstorms rolled through the Tri-State area last night, he found some lightning and shot 64.

More: Tiger Woods withdraws from Northern Trust

Spieth made eight birdies and just one bogey. His success came thanks to a blend of great iron play and outstanding putting, the combination that helped him win his three major championships and ascend to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking in 2015.

Spieth hit 15 of 18 greens in regulation and stuffed several approach shots close to the hole. On the 429-yard, par-4 17th hole, his second shot stopped a foot from the cup and on the 190-yard, second hole, his tee shot landed 5 feet from the flag.

Asked if Friday was his best ballstriking day of the season, Spieth replied, “Yeah, up there with better ballstriking of the year, for sure. I’m just tracking on a much better place throughout the golf swing.”

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Spieth’s putting has been solid all season, but on Friday it was vintage. Every time he addressed the ball, it felt like the ball was destined to find the bottom of the hole. A 15-foot birdie putt on 12 got in. A 9-foot putt for birdie on 15 and a 29-foot putt over a swale on the fourth hole, no problem. On his last hole, the ninth, Spieth made an 18-foot putt that gave him the outright lead after the morning wave was complete.

“The important thing for me is not to get ahead of myself. I mean, it’s to just continue to try and be consistent,” Spieth said. “Historically, I’m a very consistent player. I’ve lost a bit of that. I still have the firepower but that consistency is what I’m trying to get back, and there’s certainly going to be times where I’m in position and there’s going to be times where I’m out of position over the weekend. It’s about limiting the mistakes.”

Spieth is right, he’s less consistent than he was a few years ago and the stats prove it. He ranks 10th in round one scoring average this year (69.35) and second in round two scoring average (68.4), but he’s imploded on the weekends. He ranks 172nd in round three scoring average (71.19) and 195th in final-round scoring average (73).

Among the weekend horror shows have been a Sunday 75 at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, a fourth-round 76 in the U.S. Open and an 81 he shot at Riviera in the last round of the Genesis Open.

There are 36 more holes to be played for Spieth and the rest of the field, but Jordan came to New Jersey ranked No. 69 in FedEx Cup points. He’s not only building his confidence and putting himself in contention for his first win since 2017, he’s improving his chances of moving on to the BMW Championship and possibly the Tour Championship at East Lake.

Right now, winning the silver trophy awarded to the winner of the Northern Trust might be almost as satisfying as gazing on the things that adorn his trophy room back home.

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