FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (Reuters) – Never mind completing the career grand slam, Jordan Spieth is simply happy to be back on the leaderboard, especially at a major, as he plays his way back from a mini-slump.
May 17, 2019; Bethpage, NY, USA; Jordan Spieth plays his shot from the 12th tee during the second round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at Bethpage State Park – Black Course. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports
Without a top-20 finish this year, Spieth shot four-under-par 66 to grab a share of second place after the second round at the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black on Friday.
He will have to do something special over the weekend to catch runaway Brooks Koepka — who has a record seven-stroke halfway lead over the Texan and Adam Scott.
Victory on Sunday would make Spieth the sixth player to complete the modern grand slam of all four majors — the Masters, PGA Championship, U.S. Open and British Open.
Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Tiger Woods are the only players to have achieved the milestone.
Spieth won the Masters and U.S. Open in 2015 and the British Open in 2017, but insisted thoughts of completing the slam had not entered his mind.
“Certainly hasn’t,” he said.
“I haven’t been in contention on a Sunday since the (British) Open last year. If I’m able to (be in contention on Sunday), at that point it will just be more of trying to win a golf tournament.
“It won’t matter what tournament it is. I’ll be pleased to be in contention.”
Spieth’s old cross-handed putting touch did the trick on Friday. He took only 23 putts, and at one stage had six successive one-putts.
Putting alone, however, is unlikely carry him throughout the weekend on a course as difficult at Bethpage.
“I still need to hit more fairways,” he said, acknowledging that his recent swing changes are a work in progress.
“I played most of 2017 with just one swing thought … and it’s working back in that direction but it was far enough off to make it pretty difficult.
“It’s just harder on the tees to fully trust it … especially in certain situations in majors. Doing a pretty good job this week so far.”
Some former players, including six-times major champion Nick Faldo, have critiqued Spieth’s swing recently, but the 25-year-old is trying to block out the noise.
“I don’t look at what any of the experts say because I believe in our team enough to know that we’re working on the right things,” he said.
“I have no issue with the clutter. It’s just annoying to talk about negativity a lot.”
Reporting by Andrew Both; Editing by Toby Davis/Greg Stutchbury