Halfway through the 2016 Hyundai Tournament of Champions, Jordan Spieth looks to be getting the new year started the same way he spent the previous one.
Spieth moved atop the leaderboard with a 36-hole score of 16 under par after firing a nine-under 64 on Friday. The 22-year-old started the day one shot off the lead, but he got hot on the front nine and rode that wave of momentum into the lead.
Here's how the rest of this year's Hyundai Tournament of Champions leaderboard looks with two rounds remaining:
Spieth started the day slowly, settling for par on each of the first four holes, but he shot five under par on the next five holes. He capped off that stellar run with an eagle on the par-five ninth hole with this chip shot, per the PGA Tour:
Fortunately for Spieth, the brilliance did not stop there. The back nine was almost a mirror image of how he started the day with three straight pars. He found his groove again on No. 13 with a birdie that moved him ahead of Kevin Kisner for sole possession of first place.
ESPN.com's Jason Sobel pointed out there was a reason that Spieth appeared to be in midseason form already:
In golf, so much of performance is about attitude. Jordan Spieth entered this week pumped to be playing there -- and it shows in his score.— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelESPN) January 9, 2016
This season has already been good to Spieth. He's played three tournaments, starting with the WGC-HSBC Champions event in November, with his last six rounds all featuring scores in the 60s. It's shaping up to be a great season for the young Texan based on the early returns.
Even though Spieth was the headliner, Kisner made the biggest move up the leaderboard, going from seventh into a tie for second thanks to a second-round 65.
Kisner was making his move well before Spieth, as he knocked in a long birdie putt on the fifth hole, per the PGA Tour:
The 31-year-old Kisner had his breakthrough moment in November, when he won the RSM Classic for his first PGA Tour victory, which also earned him a spot in the Tournament of Champions field.
Even though this is largely uncharted territory for Kisner, Amanda Balionis of PGATour.com highlighted what made him effective Friday:
Kisner's putter is on FIRE today making everything from everywhere. He joins Spieth for the lead...for the moment, Spieth has tap in B on 13— Amanda Balionis (@Amanda_Balionis) January 9, 2016
Tournaments are won or lost on the green, so Kisner getting off to a strong start with his putter through two rounds bodes well for him to at least keep pace with Spieth over the weekend. It will take a lot of fortitude to knock off the world's top-ranked player, but Kisner's resiliency continues to shine through.
Patrick Reed, who started the day in the lead, didn't do anything wrong with a four-under-par 69. He was unable to play at the same pace as Spieth but is still in contention heading into the weekend.
There were some dicey moments for Reed late in the round when he had to salvage something from nothing, particularly during this bunker shot from the 16th hole, per the PGA Tour:
Reed was able to get a birdie out of that, moving his score to 12 under and into a tie with Kisner and Fabian Gomez for second place.
Even with his lack of movement Friday, Reed has every reason to be encouraged by his start. He won this event in a playoff last year and has shown early consistency this season with scores under 70 in each of his last six rounds.
The test for Reed will be Saturday's third round. His scoring averages in Rounds 3 (70) and 4 (70.96) last year were higher than his totals in Rounds 1 (66.5) and 2 (69.92). That won't get it done, especially with Spieth showing no signs of slowing down.
Gomez is not to be overlooked, as the PGA Tour provided a fantastic stat to go along with a nice final highlight for the Argentine star:
Given how small the field for the event is, with just 32 players, there's not a significant gap between the top contenders heading into the weekend. With little margin for error, mental toughness becomes just as critical as hitting a long drive.
Spieth will be the heavy favorite, as he should be. The young American star solidified his reputation in 2015 with five PGA Tour wins, including two majors. His second-round effort points toward many great things to come, both this weekend and throughout the rest of this season.
Note: Stats and information courtesy of PGATour.com unless otherwise indicated.