Spieth's putting steadies his challenge

IRVING (Texas) • Hometown favourite Jordan Spieth was not at his best with his iron play but drained two lengthy birdie putts as he charged into joint-second place after the second round of the AT&T Byron Nelson on Friday.

The US Open champion kept errors to a minimum as he followed his opening 64 with a five-under 65 at the rain-softened TPC Four Seasons Resort in Irving to post an 11-under total of 129.

He reeled off five birdies in his first nine holes, including a 21-footer at the 14th and a 35-footer at the 17th, before finishing level with fellow Americans Brooks Koepka (64) and Bud Cauley (65) and Spaniard Sergio Garcia (66).

They trail American leader Ben Crane (63), who is seeking his sixth career PGA victory, by a shot.

"Again, I just took advantage of the easier holes," 22-year-old Spieth told reporters.

"I have three-putted No. 13 twice and that's really the only mistakes I've made this week, even not quite feeling like I have my best iron play now."

Spieth, a seven-time winner on the PGA Tour who is known for his brilliant putting, said he felt much more in control of his game on the green than he did with an iron in his hand.

"You'd certainly like to feel like you have full control over the ball every time you step over it but that's not reality in golf," the world No. 2 smiled.

Elsewhere, tournament host Rory McIlroy will need to curb the challenge of Masters champion Danny Willett if he is to capture a first Irish Open title, after ending the second day one shot off the lead.

The Ulsterman added a second-round two-under 70 to his opening 67 to move within a stroke of the leading duo of Willett and Scotland's Marc Warren, who signed for a 66.

The world No. 3 grabbed five birdies in his round of 70 and even holed a 30-footer at his last.

However, he also posted three bogeys. "There was still a little bit of frustration out there as I felt I could have been better today," he said.

"But if you look at the leader board I'm only one shot off the lead." AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE,

REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 22, 2016, with the headline 'Spieth's putting steadies his challenge'. Print Edition | Subscribe