(Reuters) – Jordan Spieth’s decision to work on his mental game during the PGA Tour’s three-month break paid off on Friday as he recovered from a late ugly stretch at the Charles Schwab Challenge to card a 65 and seize momentum.
Playing the back nine first, the Texan grabbed the lead in Fort Worth with six birdies through his opening 11 holes but ran into trouble with a four-putt double bogey on the third and a bogey on the fourth.
Instead of giving into frustration, the 26-year-old kept his poise to birdie the next two holes to finish one stroke behind leader Harold Varner III at 10-under par through two rounds.
“I did a really good job of staying very neutral where I’d been kind of getting really negative or down on myself in the past,” he told reporters.
“I felt that I gave myself some grace to say, look, I haven’t really been practising a ton of those short-range putts.
“Those are ones where you just have a ton of them when you’re playing in competition but you’re picking them up a lot of times when you’re playing regular rounds of golf at home.”
The PGA Tour’s break, which began in mid-March to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, came at a good time for the former world number one, who struggled in his first five events of the year.
The three-time major champion, who fell out of the top 50 in January for the first time since 2013, is hoping for a strong finish at the spectator-free Colonial, where he won in 2016.
“I played a really, really solid round of golf with a 20-minute hiccup for a couple holes,” he said.
“With eight birdies around this place, it’s nothing to complain about.
“I’m obviously very pleased with the position I’m in.”
(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)