ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – If you were asked before the Open Championship to list the two or three things that would prevent Jordan Spieth from winning his third consecutive major, what would you pick?
Lack of course knowledge, perhaps, or failure to hit iron shots close to the hole. Maybe you’d predict that the elements were too much for him to handle or that he got on the wrong side of the draw. That last thing you’d say was that the putter would prevent Spieth from keeping his Grand Slam hopes alive.
The man who seemingly wills the ball into the hole, the same man who made every key putt he had to make at both the Masters and the U.S. Open, putted like a 10-handicapper during the second round at the Old Course.
Spieth needed 37 putts to negotiate his second-round 72 of the Open Championship, the most putts he’s had in a round as a professional. He also had five three-putts and has not had more than two in any other round all season.
“That’s extremely frustrating for me,” he said of his flat-stick troubles. “I just wasn’t hitting them hard enough and not adjusting to the speeds and playing the wind. It was myself.”
Spieth is at 5 under par and tied for 14th place, five shots behind leader Dustin Johnson. Only three major winners in the last five years were five or more shots off the lead after 36 holes.
Although it is Saturday, there are still two rounds remaining in this championship and Spieth has plenty of time to fight his way back to the top of the leaderboard. The good news is that he doesn’t have to pass too many players to get to Johnson. The bad news is that Johnson has the ability to make mince meat out of a windless Old Course because of his prodigious length. In Round 1, Johnson hit 11 wedges for approach shots into the 14 par-4 greens.’
“I believe I’m still in contention,” Spieth said. “I still believe I can win this tournament. I need a really solid round tomorrow, though, because Dustin is not letting up.”