Playing among the morning wave, Spieth got caught up in a greenside bunker on No. 10, his first hole of the day. After playing out sideways, he walked off the green with an opening double bogey.
At that point he was much closer to the cut line than the leaders, but Spieth and caddie Michael Greller used the short trek to the next tee as an opportunity to wipe the slate clean.
“It’s moments like 11 tee box where I really credit Michael a lot for stepping in there and being a real positive voice,” Spieth said. “He said, ‘Let’s get two birdies before the turn.’ Re-setting a goal there, is really key for me to get my mind away from what happened and look forward.”
For Spieth, the remedy didn’t arrive immediately. He played his next seven holes without a birdie, before things finally clicked with a birdie on No. 18. That led to a six-hole stretch from Nos. 2-7 that Spieth played in 5 under, and suddenly he left Bethpage Black with a 4-under 67 despite his rocky start.
The key, according to Spieth, was an attitude adjustment.
“Finally just noticed that I was angry. Noticed that it was probably because I was a little groggy from not sleeping much, plus the break on the first hole,” Spieth said. “But whatever it was on 17, I started smiling going to 18 and that was the difference-maker. It’s easy to say that with the way the scorecard was afterwards, but it’s true. That’s what happened today.”
Spieth now sits at 4 under through two rounds, the beneficiary of a second-nine rally on a burly layout that should only prove more difficult as the week progresses.
“I know it’s such a tough golf course,” he said. “It’s rare when we play tournaments on courses this challenging. Normally they are majors. But 4 under makes up a lot of ground.”