Spieth shoots 10-under 61 to take joint lead in Phoenix Open

Winless since the 2017 British Open, Spieth is trying recapture the form that carried him to 11 PGA Tour victories in his first five seasons on the tour.

Published : Feb 07, 2021 08:51 IST , SCOTTSDALE

Jordan Spieth tees off at the Farmers Insurance Open on January 29, 2021 - AP
Jordan Spieth tees off at the Farmers Insurance Open on January 29, 2021 - AP

Jordan Spieth tees off at the Farmers Insurance Open on January 29, 2021 - AP

A day after saying he needed to be patient about results, Jordan Spieth shot a 10-under 61 on Saturday for a share of the lead in the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Winless since the 2017 British Open, Spieth was tied with Xander Schauffele at 18-under 196. He then repeated himself.

“What I’m looking forward to is just staying the course, trusting it. I have no expectations on the results tomorrow. I really don’t,” Spieth said.

“I built some freedom now seeing these results the first few days here to where I feel really good about the path I’m on. I feel good about what the long term ahead looks like for me. And sometimes that’s been in question. To myself,” he added.

The 27-year-old is trying recapture the form that carried him to 11 PGA Tour victories — three of them majors — in his first five seasons on the tour. He raised the volume on the back nine at mostly empty TPC Scottsdale, drawing the biggest roar of the week from the limited crowd on the par-3 16th when he curled in a 36-footer for birdie and the outright lead.

“I just felt like I stayed really, really patient and struck the ball well,” Spieth said.

“Just tried to hit it to the fat parts of the greens when I was out of position and try and attack when I could.”

“I told Michael (caddie Greller) the only downside of the birdie putt on 16 is that it would have been arguably the loudest roar I’ve ever had if it were last year,” Spieth said. “But it was still loud.”

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He followed with a 30-footer for birdie on 17 after driving well left on the short par 4 and made four birdies on the front nine for a share of the lead, then had an unexpected birdie on the par-4 10th when he chipped in from 70 feet.

“All of a sudden today when you kind of get in the thick of things and the crowd was feeding off and really willing those putts in with me, it actually kind of felt like nothing had happened," Spieth said.

“Got quite a few really good breaks,” Spieth said. “Each shot that ended up in the desert I think I ended up playing those holes 2 or 3 under today. You could easily end up in a cactus with an unplayable.”

Spieth hit inside a foot from 170 yards for birdie on the par-4 11th, then just missed eagling the two back-nine par 5s. On 13, he couldn't get a 5 1/2-foot eagle putt to fall after a 208-yard second shot from the desert hardpan. On the water-guarded 15th, he left a 24-foot eagle putt inches short.

A week after missing the cut at Torrey Pines in his first start since the Masters in November, he matched his tour best of 61 set in the third round of his 2015 victory in the John Deere Classic.

Schauffele cards 65

The fourth-ranked Schauffele shot a 65 to match Spieth at 18-under 196. Schauffele birdied four of the last holes, making a 7-footer on 17 to tie Spieth.

Spieth and Schauffele were last paired together in the final group on the last round of the 2018 British Open at Carnoustie. Schauffele shot a 74 to tie for second behind Francesco Molinari, and Spieth had a 76 to tie for ninth.

“Hopefully, we both play a little bit better,” Spieth said.

Scottie Scheffler and Kyoung-Hoon Lee each shot 66 to get to 15 under.

Third-ranked Justin Thomas had a 64 to join Louis Oosthuizen (63) at 14 under. Thomas squandered five strokes on two holes late Thursday and early Friday, making a triple bogey on 17 in the first round and opening the second with a double on 10.

Steve Stricker had a 69 to drop into a tie for seventh at 13 under with Brooks Koepka (66) and James Hahn (66).

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