LAS VEGAS – Jordan Spieth stood in the middle of the fairway at the par-5 sixth hole in Friday’s second round of the CJ Cup at The Summit. He was 288 yards from the pin with the wind in his face, a small lake to the right of the green and nasty desert populated with loads of rocks to the left of the putting surface.
If he decided to go for the green in two and heeled it, the ball would wind up in the water. If he toed it, the ball would wind up in the desert.
Spieth pulled 3-wood from the bag.
“It was funny, after I hit the shot I walked over to Michael (Greller, his caddie) and I’m laughing at how I had no chance hitting that shot at this tournament last year if it we’re here,” Spieth said.
The ball never left the flagstick and wound up 14 feet away.
“So progress is made to step up and trust it into the wind,” Spieth said. “It was 280 yards into the breeze, you’re at altitude, but I needed to hit a striped 3‑wood. And it was a cool shot kind of for me personally because that’s one, especially with a 3‑wood into the wind, that I really struggled with.”
It was the best shot of the 65 he took in the second round. He made the 14-footer for eagle and added seven birdies to offset three bogeys. With rounds of 66-65. Spieth moved into a tie for second at 13 under through 36 holes, five shots behind pace-setter Keith Mitchell.
The 3-wood was the latest example of Spieth’s resurgence the past year. He had gone nearly four years since winning his 11th PGA Tour title and third major at the 2017 British Open. The former world No. 1 fell to 92nd in the world last January, his lowest rank since winning his first Tour title in 2013.
Spieth kept grinding and turned matters around last season with 11 top-10s in 19 starts, including his 12th PGA Tour title coming in the Valero Texas Open. He had seven top-4s, including runner-up finishes in the British Open and Charles Schwab Challenge and tied for third in the Masters.
Making his season debut in the CJ Cup, however, Spieth didn’t think this week set up well for him. The course was soft, the wind nearly non-existent, the greens barely putting up a challenge. In other words, it was going to be a birdie-fest. Spieth prefers more of a slugfest.
But Spieth is in contention.
“I like wind, I like knowing where the wind is,” he said. “I’d rather play in 15 to 20 (mph) out here than light and variable. It’s just harder for me to commit. I just grew up in wind almost every day.
“I told Michael coming in, I said I don’t think this is the best setup for me, especially since I really haven’t practiced much at all. Took a week off and then just played a couple rounds the next week. So I was kind of coming in here being like, all right, let’s play one this fall, and this happens to be the one. And now I feel good about the progress since I’ve been here this week and the course could be for me if I want it to be, I guess, on the weekend.”
With rounds of 62-64, Keith Mitchell grabs CJ Cup lead and is proving Rory McIlroy knows what he’s talking about
Watch: Joaquin Niemann made one of the best birdies you’ll see on the PGA Tour this season