World No 1 battles rugged start to fire a six-under 66 on Day Two of Hero World Challenge
Nassau, Bahamas: Jordan Spieth is back in the saddle in the middle of a week, he termed as 'half vacation'. Yet, he shares the lead with overnight co-leader Jimmy Walker (66-67) and Bill Haas (67-66) at the Hero World Challenge. Spieth's 66 included two bogeys, one of them on the par-5 third, and that should be ominous for his rivals.
Jordan Spieth during the second round of the Hero World Challenge at Albany in Nassau, Bahamas on Friday. Pic/Getty Images
The trio shares the lead at 11-under 133. They are one ahead of Chris Kirk and Patrick Reed, both of whom shot the course record equaling seven-under 65, the only difference being Reed was bogey-free. Spieth was 11-under 133 at the same stage last year in Orlando, Florida and he shot 63-66 on the weekend to romp home by 10 strokes.
The weather became cloudy towards the latter stages, though it stayed muggy but calm for most part. Once again Hideki Matsuyama (75-73) was the only one to over par. Anirban Lahiri, who created ample chances for himself, left disappointed with his two-under 70 that included a double bogey on the 18th. "It was a 70 that felt like an 80," said Lahiri.
"You could see what happened. I missed so many chances." Lahiri, one of the three first participants was now lying tied 14th down from overnight Tied-10th. Lahiri started great with three birdies in six holes on first, third and sixth. Then he admitted a error on the seventh, when he missed a four-footer for birdie. On the ninth, he missed an up-and-down from the edge of the green. "I need to do some putting drills and need to get that confidence back in it."
"I hit the ball well enough as anyone. I should have been in double digits and I am not even close to it. The putts just did not fall," said Lahiri. "This could have been a 65." Though Spieth on the strength of his World ranking and five wins in 2015, may be the favorite, as many as 12 of the 18 players are within four shots of the leading trio. At one stage the lead was shared by no less than seven players.
Spieth, who like last year had a long haul from Sydney has done the same this year with a stopover at home in Dallas. On Friday it was a untidy start despite the birdie on second. He ran into a rough patch with bogeys on third and fifth and at the sixth tee, he was one-over. But three straight birdies from sixth to eighth saw him turn in two-under and then cruised ahead on the back nine with an eagle from 30 feet on par-5 11th and birdies on 13th and 14th.
Speaking of the nature of this week's event with 18 players, Spieth admitted, "Certainly when we're on the golf course I'm definitely up there. I'm just talking about off the course preparation has been half vacation, half preparation. But on the golf course, I mean I'm still getting as intense and upset and highs and lows that I experience at a normal PGA TOUR event."
He added, "It's still all about rest. I mean, for me coming off how much golf we've been playing, I'm still going to be about making sure I'm resting. I'm not killing myself out here. You don't want to wear yourself down. I don't think I'll do anything after the round today once again.
I'll just get up, I've been getting here an extra half hour early to start my warm-up just to make sure I get through enough reps and take my time. Maybe tomorrow if I see something, whether I really need to go hit some putts or whatever it, then I'll do it after to get ready for Sunday but it's still a half vacation in my mind."