Spieth appears to have ironed out his iron play


FORT WORTH, Texas – There are plenty of similarities between the past two tournaments for Jordan Spieth.

Both weeks Spieth teed it up in front of partisan crowds in his home state of Texas. In both instances, he played his way into contention at the halfway point.

But the comparisons stop when it comes to how Spieth feels, and how he views the current state of his game. The picture, according to the world No. 2, is much rosier this week at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

After fighting his swing for much of last week across town in Dallas, Spieth has put together two straight rounds of ball-striking that more closely resemble his 2015 form. The drives are curving on command; the pesky irons are cooperating once more.

Spieth sits at 7 under after a second-round 66, having garnered some momentum that he hopes to build on this weekend.

“I feel really, really good over the ball right now,” Spieth said. “I got a little loose at the end of the round today. Fortunately still kept those on the green. My putting is coming around. Once I adjusted to the speed after a couple of kind of sloppy three-putts, really made the most of the round today.”

Spieth had to wait nearly six extra hours to begin his second round as thunderstorms battered the Fort Worth area overnight and into the morning. Once he finally reached the tee at Colonial Country Club, he found the opening fairway and green and never looked back.

In fact, after a self-described “stress-free” opening round, Spieth did even better Friday, affording himself a birdie putt on every single hole (16 greens in regulation plus a pair of fringes).

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Spieth’s lone bogeys came on No. 10, where he misjudged his first putt of the day, and No. 16, where he had to stand with his back to the hole on his first putt because of a huge swale.

“The greens were up, I think, 2 feet over yesterday, and it just took me a little while to adjust,” he said. “But once we made that adjustment, a little better on the greens and yeah, it was set up by the fairways hit.”

Spieth went out in even-par 35 on the back nine, but he made his move on the part of the course that often creates the most carnage. After birdies on Nos. 1 and 2, Spieth played the “Horrible Horseshoe” of Nos. 3-5 in 2 under par, briefly holding sole possession of the lead after rolling in a 15-footer for birdie on No. 5.

“It was a fantastic back nine that we played,” he said. “(Nos.) 1 through 5, if you play them 1 under, you’re going to be up there with the leaders because the rest of the course you can kind of really get around and have some chances. Playing 4 under today was awesome.”

Spieth’s total leaves him one shot off the clubhouse lead set by Webb Simpson, but he is four shots behind Bryce Molder, who will finish his second round in the morning because of the lengthy weather delay.

The results through 36 holes are promising, but the intangibles offer even more reason to believe that Spieth could be in for a big weekend – like the one Rory McIlroy enjoyed last week and Jason Day experienced the week prior.

After the AT&T Byron Nelson, where the word “frustrated” was never far from his lips, Spieth appears confident. He appears relaxed.

Perhaps it’s shifting the venue across town. Perhaps it’s playing a course that better suits his game. Or perhaps it’s just that, after two straight starts of squirrely ball-striking, Spieth has found a way to iron out the kinks with, well, his irons.

“I’d say (my comfort level) is up there close to where I want to have it, 100 percent trust by major time,” he said. “It’s creeping up. Big step up from last week. It’s getting close.”

“Close” is a word many golfers trot out when the results don’t quite match up with the internal assessments. It’s a word that Spieth has used at points this year, now nearly five months removed from his eight-shot rout in Maui.

But this week, on this course, in this neck of the woods, he just seems a little bit closer.