Late surge puts Spieth in control at Glen Oaks
OLD WESTBURY, N.Y. — Jordan Spieth delivered most of the excitement Saturday at The Northern Trust with three birdies in a four-hole stretch on the front nine to take the lead, and then three straight birdies on the back nine to pull away from a strong cast of contenders.
Now if he can just inject a little boredom into his life.
Spieth matched the low score of the tournament at Glen Oaks Club with a 6-under 64, giving him a three-shot lead over Dustin Johnson as he tries to embellish an already strong reputation as a closer.
Based on the last few months, however, his record only looks good on paper. "It's easier to win from that position. You've got an advantage on the field," Spieth said. "But look at my last lead — three shots, and that was gone by the fourth hole. Anything can happen on Sunday."
He was referring to the British Open, where he lost a comfortable lead in the first hour, finally fell behind on the 13th hole and then put together one of the best finishing stretches in major championship history at Royal Birkdale to beat Matt Kuchar.
He could have just as easily been referring to The Travelers a month earlier, where he struggled so mightily with his putting that he had to save par from a bunker to get into a playoff, then won on the first extra hole by holing a bunker shot.
"I imagine it's not like guys that were chasing Tiger where you almost feel hopeless and you try and do all you can," Spieth said. "Because I've shown that things can get a little off, and have to get back on track."
Johnson, his regular partner at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, failed to take advantage until he stuffed his approach into 4 feet on the 18th hole for a birdie and a 67 to narrow the gap and get into the final group with Spieth.
Paul Casey, who seems to play his best golf this time of the year, and defending champion Patrick Reed each had a 66 and were next in line at five shots back, along with Jon Rahm (67) and Kuchar (68).