Spieth Contends as Australians Lead PGA Golf; Woods Misses Cut

  • American would be 3rd player with three major wins in season
  • No Australian has won PGA since Steve Elkington in 1995

Jordan Spieth was having trouble getting birdie putts to fall into the hole with his putter during the second round at the PGA Championship, 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 yesterday, 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 time. 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 Friday several hours before a thunderstorm suspended play for the day with 57 golfers still to complete their second round. Spieth is scheduled to begin his third round at 2:39 p.m. central time.

Australian Leaders

When play resumed this morning, Australia’s Matt Jones, winner of last year’s Houston Open on the U.S. PGA Tour, took the lead at 11 under, two shots ahead of countryman Jason Day. The two will play in the final pairing today, with a tee time of 3:06 p.m. No Australian has won the PGA since Steve Elkington became the fourth to do so in 1995.

“For me, it’s amazing to be in the lead at a major,” Jones, 35, said. “I’ve been in the lead on a tour event, but a major’s a different story. I’m going to have fun with it, and I’m pretty relaxed on the golf course.”

England’s Justin Rose, who returned to finish his final hole of the second round this morning, is third at 8 under.

Woods Misses Cut

Tiger Woods, a four-time PGA Championship winner, finished at 4 over and missed the cut. It’s the first time in his career that Woods has failed to qualify for weekend play in three straight majors.

“It’s frustrating to miss any cuts because any time you miss a cut, you don’t have a chance to win the event,” said Woods, who has committed to play for the first time in next week’s PGA Tour event in Greensboro, North Carolina. “I just need to get more consistent in tournament golf. Only way you can do that is by playing and, as I said, I have a lot of golf to be played around the world.”

As Woods heads home, Spieth and other contenders are preparing for the last two rounds of golf’s final major of the season. Along with his putting, Spieth, who would join Woods and Ben Hogan as the only players to win three majors in a season, said he was unhappy with how he hit shots off the tee in his second round.

“I’m still not pleased with the way I’m driving the ball at all,” Spieth 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.”

Record Seeker

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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