PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA – On Jordan Spieth’s lengthy list of career achievements, making the cut at the Players Championship hardly qualifies.
Then again, Spieth had missed the cut here for three consecutive years and needed a second-round 68 to slip in on the number this year.
One step at a time, right?
The potentially giant leap came Saturday morning when Spieth shot 65 before the tournament leaders teed off, temporarily leapfrogging into the top 10 of an event that has frustrated him since his tie for fourth in his first appearance in 2014.
Spieth’s round didn’t attract the breathless attention of Tiger Woods’ 65 but it was similarly valuable. Spieth didn’t miss inside 15 feet on Saturday, reinforcing his belief that his putting – until recently the Tour’s gold standard on the greens – is returning to form.
“I’m telling you, if you don’t miss a putt inside of 15 feet, golf is pretty easy. But when you are making half of them, like I was the first round, then it’s a harder game,” Spieth said.
For Spieth, putting rarely has been a concern. Along with his mental approach, putting is what has separated Spieth, helping him win three major championships.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 12, 2018
But Spieth entered the Players Championship ranking 187th in strokes gained putting this year. That’s a steep fall from second, where Spieth ranked in the same category in 2016.
There have been rounds this year – Spieth points to a couple at the Genesis Open at Riviera, a couple more at the Masters and the final day at the Houston Open – when his stroke has felt the way it did for so long. The challenge has been making his old stroke his new normal again, like it was Saturday at the Stadium Course.
“I felt like I had the freedom in the stroke, I didn’t feel like I had to force anything,” Spieth said.
“You ask, why don’t you do that all the time, it’s just not the case. You know you have to get to where you’re comfortable at setup. I didn’t have to worry about that for 10, 12 years, but the last year or so it had gotten off with my eyes.
“I’m on the right path now and I really just wanted a weekend tee time here, every tournament round I play I feel like on the right path, it’s going to get better and better and better. So I’m going to go out with the utmost confidence tomorrow to try and get off to a good start and make some noise. At this point it’s fun – I have nothing to lose. I was 14 back starting today and anything inside a top-10 is an incredible feat over the weekend from that far back. And I’ve got a chance to potentially make more noise than that.”