Jordan Spieth is preparing himself for a “mean Pebble” on Saturday.
With the forecast calling for a 70-percent chance of rain and winds ranging from 20 to 30 mph, with possible gusts up to 40 mph, Pebble Beach will likely play much tougher than it – and co-host Spyglass Hill – did the first two days on the Monterey Peninsula.
“Pebble’s going to be mean Pebble, it looks like … and I look forward to that challenge,” said Spieth, who fired a Spyglass-best 5-under 67 on Friday to reach 12 under and take a one-shot lead into the weekend. “It's going to be fun to go out there and have to hit some kind of different level shots than when we played in the desert last week.”
Spieth’s embrace of hard conditions is another positive sign as he continues to rediscover the game that won him three majors and allowed him to reach No. 1 in the world. Last week at the Phoenix Open, Spieth shot 61 to grab a share of the 54-hole lead before his bid for his first win since the 2017 Open ended with a closing 72 and T-4 finish.
Spieth said Friday that he’s getting more comfortable with his swing by the day. “Equal progressions,” said Spieth, who carded just one bogey around Spyglass, a three-putt from 6 feet at the par-5 opening hole, his 10th of the day. But the rest of the round was filled with bright spots, including a 40-foot birdie make at the par-3 fifth, one of Spieth’s four birdies in his final five holes.
The were some of those lucky breaks that we saw in Phoenix, too – he made birdie on No. 7 after his 3-wood off the tee hit a tree and kicked back into the fairway – but Spieth is confident as he gets right back on the horse this weekend in hopes of ending that lengthy losing streak.
“I'm just trying to kind of get more comfortable being toward the top of the leaderboard and kind of feeling those nerves,” Spieth said. “You start to get more comfortable the more often you're there, and these two days playing with or around the lead for at least the back nine yesterday through most of the round today, I felt a lot more comfortable than I did last week, which is a good sign.”
Not that it won’t be challenging. Spieth, who is one clear of Daniel Berger and three ahead of Patrick Cantlay and Paul Casey, admittedly still isn’t completely there with his swing yet, and Saturday’s weather won’t make things easier. But if Spieth is feeling good, he could have quite the advantage on Pebble’s small greens, which demand precision and imagination, especially in the wind.
“These golf courses, specifically, you have to be shot-making and it's very feel based,” Spieth said. “You're not just playing in the desert and firing range shots up. You very rarely have one that you're just playing a stock driving range shot. So, that can be challenging when you're off, and it can be an advantage when, for me, I really like that when I'm feeling good about my game.”