Golf

Jordan Spieth on fire with putter at Colonial, lurking behind leader Jonas Blixt

Jordan Spieth discusses his second round at 2019 Colonial

North Texas star Jordan Spieth discusses his second round of the 2019 Charles Schwab Challenge.
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North Texas star Jordan Spieth discusses his second round of the 2019 Charles Schwab Challenge.

Jordan Spieth has made more than 300 feet in putts already this week.

He drained a 46-footer on No. 4 in Round 1 for a birdie, then topped that by draining a 50-footer for birdie on No. 10 in Round 2. Two holes later Friday, Spieth dropped in a 47-footer for birdie on No. 12.

As Spieth said, “Certainly a good couple days putting that saved me and has given me a chance this weekend.”

Spieth is right in the hunt going into the weekend of the Charles Schwab Challenge and will certainly be the fan favorite. He is in a five-way tie for fifth at 5-under, four shots back of leader Jonas Blixt (9-under).

Spieth, who is paired with C.T. Pan, will tee off at 12:25 p.m. Saturday. Blixt, along with Kevin Na, are in the final grouping at 12:55 p.m.

If Spieth can continue his hot streak on the greens, he’ll be a threat to win his first tournament since the 2017 British Open and get his second career win at Colonial.

Despite the bombs made on the greens, Spieth is hopeful that Friday ends up being his “off round” for the tournament. Spieth hit just six of 14 fairways, and nine of 18 greens on the day.

For the tournament, he has hit 13 of 28 fairways and 20 of 36 greens.

“If I can hit more greens than I hit these two rounds, I feel like I’ve got a great chance when it comes down to the last few holes Sunday,” Spieth said. “It’s that simple. To play Colonial and be on nine greens, it’s tough around the greens here.

“I did a great job chipping to get myself inside five feet most of the time. You just can’t rely on that. You’ve got to get the ball on the putting surface.”

That’s something Blixt has done, hitting 28 of 36 greens so far. Blixt had a little bit of luck, too, during his 6-under 64 on Friday.

He holed out from 132 yards for an eagle on No. 17, just the eighth time a player has made eagle on the 387-yard par-4 in tournament history.

“Hit a little pitching wedge from 132,” Blixt said. “Just one of those lucky things you do sometimes.”

Blixt, a 35-year-old Swede, played beautifully throughout. Along with the greens hit, he found 12 of 14 fairways and put together his career-best round at Colonial.

Na and first-round leader Tony Finau are tied for second at 8-under, one stroke behind Blixt.

Na dazzled with an 8-under 62. He’s shot 62 or better in three of his last six rounds at Colonial, as he opened last year’s tournament with an 8-under 62 and closed by tying the course record with a 9-under 61.

“It’s a good golf course for me,” Na said. “Just some golf courses that fit your game, and you’ve got to take advantage of those weeks, and this is one of them.”

Na opened his day with an eagle on the par-5 first, using his hybrid on his second shot from 245 yards to get within three feet of the cup. He then rolled in a couple 31-footers for birdies on Nos. 6 and 13.

“If I can keep hitting it solid off the tee and keep the putter somewhat sharp, I think I’ll have a chance,” Na said.

Finau continued his solid tournament by parring every hole on his opening nine (the back nine on Friday), and then making three birdies and one bogey on the front en route to a 2-under 68.

Finau has changed to a “claw” putting grip, something that is paying dividends. He ranks second in strokes gained on the greens through the first two rounds.

“I love the position I’m in,” said Finau, ranked No. 16 in the world. “I’ve got an opportunity to do something special on the weekend. Nothing that I need to change I feel like going into the weekend.”

Former Fort Worth resident Rory Sabbatini is in contention, too, sitting alone in fourth place at 6-under. Along with Spieth, the five-way tie for fifth features majors champions in Jim Furyk and Jason Dufner.

The 49-year-old Furyk is an intriguing contender. He’s playing in his 22nd Colonial and is eighth on the tournament’s all-time money list, but has never won the event.

For Furyk, though, this is a tournament that players of varying styles can compete and contend for compared to major championships where longer hitters typically fare better.

“It’s not a power-dominated golf course,” Furyk said. “It’s a place you have to put the ball in the fairway. You’re going to have to hit some shots and hold them against the winds.

“It’s nice to get off to a good start.”

Who’s in, who’s out

Justin Rose and Francesco Molinari are the top-ranked players left in the field, but each are 10 shots off the lead. Rose, the defending champion ranked No. 3 in the world, and Molinari, the reigning British Open champion ranked No. 7, are paired together for Round 3 and will tee off at 8:55 a.m.

The other top 10 players in the field — Bryson DeChambeau, Xander Schauffele and Rickie Fowler — missed the cut. Fowler had made 21 consecutive cuts coming into the tournament.

Jon Rahm, ranked No. 11 in the world, also missed the cut, and Paul Casey (No. 13) withdrew Friday.

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