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Jordan Spieth at Tour Championship 2016: Thursday Leaderboard Score, Reaction

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistSeptember 22, 2016

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 22:  Jordan Spieth hits his tee shot on the second hole during the first round of the TOUR Championship By Coca-Cola at East Lake Golf Club on September 22, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Jordan Spieth kept himself in the running at the Tour Championship on Thursday, shooting a two-under 68 at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. 

That left Spieth two strokes behind co-leaders Hideki Matsuyama and Kevin Chappell at the time his round ended.

It wasn't the superstar's steadiest round of golf, however. In fact, his start was dreadful, as he bogeyed the first hole and double-bogeyed the second.

He managed to recover quickly, though, with birdies on Nos. 3, 4 and 6 to bring himself back to even par. He then parred the next six holes, including this highlight-reel shot on No. 9, via the PGA Tour:

PGA TOUR @PGATOUR

That one deserves a high five. ✋ #QuickHits https://t.co/7bkvE2muu3

But the consistency ran out on No. 14, where he earned another bogey. Spieth closed his round in style, however, with pars on the next two holes before making birdies on Nos. 17 and 18.

It wasn't Spieth at his best, as his stats from the round showed, per the PGA Tour:

PGA TOUR @PGATOUR

Jordan Spieth is just 2 back ... Fairways: 7/14. Greens: 10/18. Putts: 25. Score. 68. ⛳️ https://t.co/MSxytsTbOS

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Nonetheless, Ben Coley of Sporting Life was impressed with Spieth's effort:

Ben Coley @BenColeyGolf

There has simply never been a better mid-range putter than Spieth, but how much heart has he got too. Incredible to shoot 2-under today.

Spieth seems comfortable putting at East Lake.

"From 20-plus feet, I can roll them in on these greens," he said after the round, per golf writer John Strege. "I feel very comfortable doing so."

His putter was the key.

"It was an off day [ball-striking], and I saved it with the putter, kind of something that seems to be too common with me," Spieth acknowledged, per Randall Mell of Golf Channel.

The FedEx Cup and its $10 million prize are at stake in Atlanta, though Spieth will need a bit of help even if he wins the Tour Championship.

As Kyle Porter of CBS Sports explained, "[Dustin] Johnson would have to finish in a three-way tie for second or worse and [Patrick] Reed would need to finish tied for second or worse for Spieth to take home the bonus money."

Spieth came into the tournament seventh in the FedEx Cup standings.

Spieth has his work cut out for him, but it must be a scary thought for the rest of the field that he could play so inconsistently and still finish with a 68. His ability to cover up his mistakes with his incredible putting could play a major role in this tournament and help him secure his second consecutive FedEx Cup title.

             

You can follow Timothy Rapp on Twitter.

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