Spieth Contending for 3rd Major Win of Season as Rain Halts Play

Updated on
  • Masters and U.S. Open champion shoots 5-under 67 in 2nd round
  • Thunderstorm suspends play with 57 golfers still on course

Jordan Spieth was having trouble getting birdie putts to fall into the hole with his putter, so he tried a different approach.

Standing in a waist-deep bunker to the right side of the 18th green at Whistling Straits golf course, Spieth swung a sand wedge and watched as his ball flew 48 feet toward the hole, took three bounces and rolled slowly into the left side of the cup. The winner of this year’s Masters and U.S. Open tournaments waived his club in the air with his left hand and slapped right hands with his caddie, Michael Greller, as the crowd roared.

That “was a great spark to get things going, get a little confidence, a little pep in my step,” Spieth said in a news conference. “That was a nice two-shot swing in one shot.”

It was Spieth’s third birdie of the second round and moved him within three shots of the lead at the PGA Championship. The hole-out helped propel Spieth, who rolled in birdie putts on three of his next six holes to briefly move into a tie for the tournament lead at 6 under.

Spieth finished his round several hours before a thunderstorm suspended play for the day at the course with 57 golfers still to complete their second round. Play will resume Saturday morning with Australians Jason Day and Matt Jones tied for the lead at 9 under par, one shot ahead of England’s Justin Rose, who was on his final hole when play was halted.

The leader among those who have finished the second round is Sweden’s David Lingmerth at 7 under. Tiger Woods is 4 over with five holes left in his second round, two shots beyond the projected cut for weekend play.

Up until he reached the 18th green, Spieth, who began his second round on No. 10, had been having trouble getting birdie putts to drop into the hole. He missed attempts from 14 feet on the 14th, 16 feet on the 15th and 16 feet on the 17th. Along with his putting, Spieth said he was unhappy with how he was hitting shots off the tee.

“I’m still not pleased with the way I’m driving the ball at all,” he said. “I’m hitting some quick draws when I’m playing a normal shot, which is weird. I haven’t had that really this whole year. In order to keep shooting the rounds like today, I’m going to need to drive the ball a little bit better and make a few more putts, which are really the two keys for me this weekend.”

Spieth’s play this season has attracted the attention of other professional athletes. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, a two-time National Football League Most Valuable Player, on Friday was among those following Spieth around the course, located about 70 miles south of Green Bay.

“I wasn’t aware that he was out there, but I think it’s really cool that he’s a fan of the sport and that he would come down to watch,” Spieth said.
“He’s definitely one of my favorite athletes. I don’t really get star struck, but it would be cool to meet him.”

Seeking to become the first player since Woods in 2000 to win three of golf’s four major championships in a single season, Spieth began the tournament with a 1-under 71, the same score he has opened with in his previous five PGA Championship appearances.

A victory on Sunday would move Spieth, 22, to the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking, if current No. 1 Rory McIlroy finishes outside of second place. Spieth would also become the first player to eclipse $11 million in earnings in a single season. McIlroy is 2 under after consecutive rounds of 71.

While Spieth said he strives to surpass McIlroy as the game’s No. 1 player, for now he said he’s happy to have the Northern Irishman out on the course after a layoff due to an ankle injury.

“His game is extremely exciting,” he said of McIlroy. “Watching him drive the golf ball is just inspirational. It’s unbelievable. I would argue there’s nobody like it when he’s hitting his driver good. It’s great to have him back.”

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