By Andrew Both
FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (Reuters) – Jordan Spieth, who is chasing a career grand slam, surged into contention at the PGA Championship on Friday, grabbing the clubhouse lead during the second round.
The Texan swung smoothly and displayed his old silky cross-handed putting touch at Bethpage Black.
He took only 23 putts, coaxing the ball into the hole with precision to card a four-under-par 66.
“I feel like I have good control of the club, good timing, good rhythm and it was nice to roll in a few putts,” Spieth said after posting a five-under 135 halfway total.
Overnight leader Brooks Koepka, who shot a course record 63, was still waiting to start his second round.
“I made a few good par-saving putts and took advantage of the easy holes,” Spieth added.
“This golf course, you can’t (force it). It requires more patience which feeds into what I’m trying to do.”
There is a long way to go, but 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 in the exclusive club.
Spieth won the Masters and U.S. Open in 2015 and the British Open in 2017.
Yet the 25-year-old arrived on Long Island without a top-20 finish all year, and with questions being asked about whether his best days were already behind him.
He said recently that the critics did not know what they were talking about, and backed up his words on the course on Friday.
Spieth began his day at the 10th hole and a 12-foot birdie at his second hole set the tone on a difficult stretch of the course.
It could have fallen apart after consecutive bogeys at the 15th and 16th, but he responded like his old self, almost making a hole-in-one at the par-three 17th before converting the putt.
(Reporting by Andrew Both; Editing by Toby Davis)