Jordan Spieth looking like Jordan Spieth again at AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Jordan Spieth is looking a lot more like Jordan Spieth.
The former world No. 1 and three-time major champion didn’t leave his good form of late in Phoenix as he shot 7-under-par 65 at calm Pebble Beach in Thursday’s first round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Spieth, a former Texas Longhorn, followed it up Friday with a 67 to take a one-shot leader over Daniel Berger going into the weekend.
It was another step in the right direction as Spieth, who won here in 2017, continues his climb out of an abyss he fell into three years ago. Last week, Spieth, who hasn’t won since he captured the Claret Jug at Royal Birkdale in 2017, had his first top-10 in a year when he finished in a tie for fourth in the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
His Saturday 10-under-par 61 at TPC Scottsdale had the golf world buzzing as Jordan was doing all sorts of Jordan things. And the golf world was percolating again when Spieth made three birdies on his first six holes at Pebble Beach and then holed out from 113 yards for eagle 2 on the 10th. He added birdies at 14, 15 and 18 Thursday, and after Friday's five-under round he is in position to make a run at his 12th Tour title.
“Pebble presents a lot of precision, and you’ve got to really trust what you’re doing,” Spieth said Thursday. “When the conditions were going to be easier today, you needed to kind of shoot a low round and make sure you’re in this tournament because it’s going to be a grind the next few days with the weather that we have coming in.
“I didn’t try and go force those birdies. I just kind of tried to hit to the right spots early in the round and just kind of get settled into the round, and then I was kind of rewarded on No. 10 with a hole-out eagle from just kind of playing the right style of golf before that.”
After Thursday's round Spieth sat three back of leader Patrick Cantlay, who tied the course record with a 62 at Pebble Beach. Cantlay was two clear of teenager Akshay Bhatia and Henrik Norlander, who were at Pebble. The best score turned in at Spyglass Hill was Will Gordon’s 66.
Spieth’s lone blemish on the card came on the eighth when he missed the green. Other than that, it was more of a steady climb up the leaderboard on the strength of solid play instead of Jordan doing Jordan things. That is, besides the hole-out eagle.
A telling sign? He made just 62 feet of putts; the longest putt he made was 13 feet, and three of his birdies came from four feet. He hit 15 of 18 greens in regulation.
“Maybe the best sign of good things to come of any stat,” Spieth said. “It’s also hard to have a lot of feet of putts at Pebble. I mean you don’t really have a lot of long putts; the greens are so small. But I hit a lot of greens in regulation, only really got into trouble on one hole, and other than that I would still like things to feel better than they do, but I know I’m able to kind of play a shot that, kind of a punch draw if I need to have it, and it’s nice to kind of feel that you can always go to a shot if you get a little bit uncomfortable.
“And I think this is what you were talking about. Being able to club down and just kind of play a couple 4-irons off tees on some holes to make sure I’m able to get into birdie range in two.”
Still the highlight was the hole-out.
“I needed to cover 107 on the false front, and it hit. I fixed the pitch mark maybe two short of the hole, and I think it bounced past it and then spun back,” Spieth said. “Once I saw where it landed I knew it would be close. It was a bonus for it to obviously go in. I saw it drop and then there was three people on the balcony of the house in the distance and a couple people near the green, volunteers where his hands went up. But it’s still weird having a moment like that where you’re used to kind of a loud roar and it’s just so kind of calm and quiet.”