On Friday after a fog delay that lasted nearly three hours at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship both stars went in the wrong direction and will need to turn things around dramatically on Saturday when they return to the course to finish the second round.
The marquee threesome of Spieth, McIlroy and Rickie Fowler did little to impress on Day 2, with the group combining to make just two birdies (both by Fowler) through their first nine holes.
For Spieth – who was 2 over par through 13 holes when play was suspended because of darkness and had dropped into a tie for 26th place – it was a continuation of his opening-day performance as the world No. 1 struggled with his ball striking (he hit just four of seven fairways in his opening nine holes) and didn’t convert the crucial putts that have become his trademark.
While McIlroy, who is making his 2016 debut, played steady golf for eight holes – a run that included numerous missed birdie attempts – before he pushed his drive at the ninth into a water hazard and scrambled to make par. The Northern Irishman was 1 over through 13 holes and tied for ninth place at 5 under par for the week.
Fowler, on the other hand, rebounded from a rocky first round with birdies at the second, eighth and 12th holes to jump 20 spots up the leaderboard and into a tie with McIlroy.
None of the three players spoke with the media after the round.
The second round is scheduled to resume at 7:40 a.m. local time (10:40 p.m. ET on Friday) and players will be grouped in threesomes and sent off the first and 10th tees for the third round.