Spieth in command with 4-shot lead

Jordan Spieth reacts after chipping for eagle on the ninth hole during round two of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
Jordan Spieth reacts after chipping for eagle on the ninth hole during round two of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LOS ANGELES • World No. 1 Jordan Spieth delivered a putting masterclass on the way to a flawless nine-under 64 that took him four shots clear at the halfway stage of golf's USPGA Tournament of Champions on Friday.

Spieth, who would match Tiger Woods with a seventh PGA win before the age of 23 should he finish top of the leaderboard today, putted brilliantly on greens that he said were the slowest he had ever encountered on the Tour.

Only Horton Smith, who won 14 times from 1928-30, had piled up more victories by that age.

Boosted by a 35-foot chip-in eagle at the par-five ninth, Spieth, 22, added seven birdies to post a 130 halfway total, with first-round leader Patrick Reed (69), Kevin Kisner (65) and Fabian Gomez (66) tied for second on 134.

Spieth is also on track to beat the tournament record of 261 set by Ernie Els in 2003.

"I guess it's possible but that's asking a lot," he said. "(Another) 16 under will be difficult to duplicate.

"I don't know if I could have scored much better these first couple of days."

Posting his second straight bogey-free round, he plundered the par-fives, playing them in a total of five under.

And, on the few occasions he was in danger of dropping a shot, his flawless cross-handed putting came to the rescue.

He sank testing par-savers on the 16th and 17th holes and then finished his round in style, coaxing in a 13-foot birdie at the par-five 18th where his ball teetered on the edge of the cup before dropping in.

"It's nice to have no blemishes on the card," said the Masters and US Open champion. "I started slapping it around (on) No.s 16 and 17, but fortunately those saves really kept us on the go and allowed me to have that confidence on No. 18.

"Patience is going to be key this weekend. There's going to be a lot of birdies made. If I can continue to keep a blemish-free card, we're going to be in good position."

Spieth's putting impressed former Tour player Notah Begay, who told the Golf Channel: "He's putting as well as anybody ever has in the history of the game".

Australia's Jason Day carded a 73 for a total of 143 that left him tied for 21st in the field of 32.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 10, 2016, with the headline 'Spieth in command with 4-shot lead'. Print Edition | Subscribe