Jordan Spieth put himself right in the mix to win the 2019 PGA Championship with a 66 in Friday's second round to drop his 36-hole score to five-under par.
Starting the day tied for ninth place after shooting a 69 in the first round, Spieth opened on the back nine with a 15-foot birdie on his second hole.
After making par on the next three holes, Spieth's round looked like it was going to take a tumble. He hit back-to-back bogeys on No. 15 and 16 to fall back to even-par overall. The Texas native got right back on track with his second birdie of the day on 17.
This season has been a challenge for Spieth, with no top-10 finishes in 12 tournaments to this point. He was even asked about being in a slump on Wednesday:
Depending on how this weekend turns out, that second birdie could be seen as a crucial turning point in Spieth breaking out of his slump. Moving to the front nine led to him making a charge up the leaderboard.
The strange thing about Spieth's success through two rounds at Bethpage Black is he hasn't dramatically improved what's caused him problems throughout the 2019 season.
His accuracy off the tee was 57.1 percent and he made just 50 percent of greens in regulation on Friday, per PGATour.com. The 25-year-old ranks 152nd in greens in regulation and 205th in driving accuracy on the PGA Tour this season.
Spieth's putter has been his saving grace thus far, including 3.98 strokes gained on the green in the second round.
Things are set up perfectly for Spieth to finally complete the career grand slam based on his track record in major tournaments:
William Hill @WilliamHill
Jordan Spieth’s score of 135 is his fourth career opening 36-hole score of 135 or better in a major championship. He went on to win on each of the previous occasions... 2015: Masters Tournament - 130 2015: U.S. Open - 135 2017: The Open Championship - 134 👀 https://t.co/gnUuqYSDBP
Saturday will go a long way toward determining if Spieth really is back. His putting has often failed him during the weekend rounds. The three-time major champion leads the PGA Tour this season in fewest putts during the second round (26.58), but that number jumps up to 29.44 in the third round and 28.9 in the final round.
At the very least, Spieth's first two rounds should give him the confidence to know he can compete with anyone on this course. It's been nearly two full years since his last win, but history suggests he won't be intimidated by this stage with 36 holes remaining.