Jordan Spieth appeared out of sync during first-round play at the 2017 Tournament of Champions on Thursday, but the defending champion shook off the cobwebs and flashed a more complete game during a largely fruitful second-round showing in Kapalua, Hawaii, on Friday.
After he entered Round 2 at one under par overall, Spieth climbed up the leaderboard with a four-under 69 and is now five under through 36 holes:
|Jordan Spieth at the Tournament of Champions (Round 2)|
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At the conclusion of his round, Spieth sat four shots off the lead with Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Thomas and Jimmy Walker setting the pace, via PGA.com:
Although he struggled with consistency on Thursday, he looked more comfortable in all phases through the first seven holes on Friday. The 23-year-old carded two birdies to move to three under overall, and for a moment, it seemed as though he would escape the front nine without a blemish on his scorecard.
However, a double-bogey on the par-three eighth briefly—emphasis on briefly—dampened his hopes of making the turn without a dropped shot.
That error could have conceivably sent Spieth spiraling back down the leaderboard and toward even par, but he rebounded in stellar fashion and started to pour in putts that defined a resurgent day.
Spieth closed out the front nine with a birdie to get back to two under, and he used that conversion as a springboard to rattle off four straight birdies to open his back nine, as the PGA Tour documented on Twitter:
The PGA Tour's Teryn Schaefer put Spieth's scoring surge in perspective after birdies were hard to come by on Thursday:
And while Spieth's roll slowed when he made back-to-back pars on Nos. 14 and 15 and a triple bogey on No. 17, as the Golf Channel showed, he's still within striking distance as the weekend approaches:
Spieth proved Friday he has a legitimate chance to hoist Tournament of Champions hardware for the second time in as many years, and eliminating errors off the tee like the ones that plagued him on Nos. 8 and 17 could allow him to string together a round on moving day that moves him into the leaderboard's top tier entering the final round.
Making up ground against such a stacked field won't necessarily be easy, but if Spieth is able to lock in and make efficient shots like he did on the first portion of the back nine, he should be in contention come Sunday.
The PGA Tour relayed video of Spieth discussing his second-round performance:
"I'll struggle for the next couple hours getting over 17 kind of throwing me out of the tournament," Spieth said, per the Associated Press (via PGATour.com). "Just feel like it's going to be too big of an uphill battle. But I can get myself probably 12- to 14-under par the next two days and finish in the top five. So that becomes the next goal."