Jordan Spieth aims to walk tall as he moves into contention at The Open

Brooks Koepka, the major machine, is lurking ominously on the Royal Portrush leaderboard, but so, too, is Jordan Spieth, who boasts one of the best recent records in the Open Championship.
Jordan Spieth on the 11th green during the second round of the Open Championship at Royal Portrush. Picture: AFP/GettyJordan Spieth on the 11th green during the second round of the Open Championship at Royal Portrush. Picture: AFP/Getty
Jordan Spieth on the 11th green during the second round of the Open Championship at Royal Portrush. Picture: AFP/Getty

Before winning at Royal Birkdale in 2017, the Texan had been in the mix at St Andrews two years earlier. He then led going into the final round at Carnoustie 12 months ago before slipping to joint ninth after a disappointing closing effort.

Now Spieth is heading into the weekend in contention once again in the game’s oldest major, having opened with rounds of 70 and 67 to have the leaders in his sights on the County Antrim coast.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In his second circuit, the 25-year-old was all over the place at times, hitting particularly wild tee shots at the tenth and 14th holes. It’s the score that matters, though, and a burst that saw him go birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie from the fifth set up the good day’s work by the three-time major winner.

“At some point I hope to be playing off the short grass this week,” he joked afterwards. “I think I hit maybe two or three fairways today. I mean, I posted a score that was pretty incredible from where I played my second shots from.”

Spieth was out of sorts earlier in the season before coming under fire for publicly criticising his caddie, Michael Greller, during last month’s US Open at Pebble Beach. The partnership is still intact, though, and Spieth is enjoying being back in the thick of things in a major, particularly this one.

“I think it’s something very important to draw back on,” he said of that impressive record in the R&A event. “I think I need to be looking at the positives of the history of this tournament and my history in major championships versus focusing on anything else.

“If I can walk tall knowing that there’s very few people who have been in this situation contending in the weekend in majors as many times as I have, that’s certainly a confidence boost. So that’s going to be the mentality.”

As was the case at Carnoustie, Spieth is sharing a house with some of his fellow Americans, including this year’s WGC Match Play winner Kevin Kisner. “It’s a really fun week,” he declared. “The last four years, five or six of us players have stayed in one house. It’s a lot of fun. We don’t normally do that. There’s a lot of good table topics, and just shooting the shit and stuff. It’s good.

“Kiz is kind of the leader of the house. It’s a cool experience being able to all stay in one place at the Open Championship and enjoy the coolest tournament in the world.”

While Spieth described his putting performance so far as “really good”, it’s been a frustrating couple of days on the greens for Koepka, the world No 1 who came into this event having finished first-second-first-second in the last four majors.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I’ve not made a putt all week,” he declared after adding a 69 to an opening 68 to sit alongside his compatriot. “I just need to figure that out. If I can make some putts I could very easily be ten-under, and really maybe more. It’s not really a speed issue. I feel like my speed has been pretty solid, so I’ll go on the putting green and make sure all the mechanics are there. From there, just try to figure it out.”