NASSAU, Bahamas – It’s not imperative that Jordan Spieth win this week’s Hero World Challenge. But it would be fitting.
This is Spieth’s final event of the year, a year in which he won two majors, five PGA Tour events, a FedEx Cup title and in excess of $22 million.
Why not add another trophy and an extra mil?
Spieth shares the 36-hole lead at Albany, tied with Jimmy Walker and Bill Haas at 11 under. It didn't look good early Friday, however, as he began his second round by playing the first five holes in 1 over.
"At that point ... I was walking to the next tee box and I told [caddie] Michael [Greller] my swing feels as good as it has in a long time, my putting feels as good as it has in a long time, maybe Augusta. I feel so comfortable with my putter right now, especially 5 feet and out," Spieth said. "But I told him, I was walking to the tee and I said everything feels awesome, I'm just not scoring right now. He said hang in there, keep giving yourself putts.
"And sure enough we rallied off seven of them. Well, five and an eagle."
Spieth played Nos. 6-14 in 7 under, with the aforementioned five birdies and an eagle at the par-5 11th. He finished with a 6-under 66.
“It was a rough start,” he said, “but, boy, a great bounce back."
Spieth is the defending champion, having won by 10 strokes with a tournament-record 26-under total a year ago at Isleworth Golf & Country Club. That margin of victory might not be possible this time around, but it may take something near 20 under to repeat.
It’s telling that Spieth is in this position. After a historic season, he has every right to cruise into the new year. Instead, he’s again in contention, again grinding away for a victory.
Not that it’s all work. Spieth has friends on hand and he has every intention of enjoying the Bahamian atmosphere. And he said that he has no plans of wearing himself out on the range after his round.
"It's still all about rest. I mean, for me coming off how much golf we've been playing, I'm still going to be about making sure I'm resting," he said. "I'm not killing myself out here. You don't want to wear yourself down."
But back to the “grind.” That’s Spieth’s word. When he gets between the ropes, he said, that’s his attitude – regardless of when and where he’s playing.
It was evident on Friday. Spieth was Spieth. He was hitting great shots, talking to his ball, looking incredulously at Greller when shots went awry, using his caddie as a sounding board. It was the same Spieth we see week in and week out.
The one who hasn’t let adversity, like a sluggish start, get the better of him.
"On the golf course, I mean, I'm still getting as intense and upset and highs and lows that I experience at a normal PGA Tour event," he said.
When Spieth sets his mind to something, good results usually follow. He admitted to a little lapse at the beginning of the playoffs, but that ended up just fine. His major season, which garners his greatest focus, also went pretty well.
Focus isn’t a problem this week, and it even comes with an on/off switch. Spieth has 36 holes remaining in his 2015 campaign. After that, it’s relaxing with the family and a few leisurely rounds at Augusta National.
He’s looking forward to that respite, and he's certainly enjoying this week off the course. But he’s got a little more business to take care of first.
"It's still a half-vacation in my mind," he said.
"But the grind is still there."