Maui Sports

Spieth Dominating at Halfway Point of Hyundai Tournament

January 9, 2016, 7:48 AM HST
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PGA golfer Jordan Spieth waits with his caddie Mike Greller before teeing off on the first hole during the second round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions golf tournament at Kapalua Resort on Friday. Photo by Brian Spurlock of USA TODAY Sports.

PGA golfer Jordan Spieth waits with his caddie Mike Greller before teeing off on the first hole during the second round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions golf tournament at Kapalua Resort on Friday. Photo by Brian Spurlock of USA TODAY Sports.

By MauiNow.com

New year, same old dominating performance by the World’s No. 1 professional golfer Jordan Spieth.

For the second straight day the wind at The Plantation Course in Kapalua was a non-factor, allowing Spieth another bogey-free round and a four-shot lead going into Saturday’s third round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

The 22-year-old Texan chipped in for eagle, made a pair of tough par saves late and ended his round Friday with a 15-foot birdie putt into the grain that stopped on the lip and then dropped into the cup for a 9-under 64.

Spieth is making putts. Spieth is holing chip shots. And Spieth is in the lead. Two rounds into the 2016 season and it feels a lot like last year.

For all the talk about how he can match what he did last year — two majors, five victories — it might be just as tough to repeat what he has done the opening two rounds. Spieth was at 16-under 130, one short of the 36-hole record at Kapalua set by Ernie Els in 2003.

PGA golfer Patrick Reed shakes hands on the first tee with Jordan Spieth during the second round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions golf tournament at The Plantation Course. on Friday. Photo by Brian Spurlock of USA TODAY Sports.

PGA golfer Patrick Reed shakes hands on the first tee with Jordan Spieth during the second round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions golf tournament at The Plantation Course. on Friday. Photo by Brian Spurlock of USA TODAY Sports.

“Did I see 16 under? Probably not to start the season,” Spieth said.

Kevin Kisner, coming off a big year of his own with his first victory and four runner-up finishes, missed a couple of short birdie putts and still shot an 8-under 65 that earned him a spot in the final group with Spieth today at 11 a.m.

“It’s nice to not have any blemishes on the card,” Spieth said off his bogey-free scorecard. “I seemed to really like courses that have Bermuda (greens), that’s what I grew up on and these greens are very similar to what I grew up putting on in Dallas, so I feel real comfortable around the greens, and for people who may not have grew up with Bermuda, it’s an adjustment.

“I don’t know what to tell you, the golf course doesn’t play extremely long, you have to keep it in between the beacons and there are really wide fairways, but you just can’t miss them.”

PGA golfer Fabian Gomez waits to tee off on the first hole during the second round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions golf tournament at The Plantation Course. On Friday. Photo by Brian Spurlock USA TODAY Sports.

PGA golfer Fabian Gomez waits to tee off on the first hole during the second round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions golf tournament at The Plantation Course. On Friday. Photo by Brian Spurlock USA TODAY Sports.

Birdies have not been in short supply this week with only a moderate breeze and a blazing sun that is making Kapalua pick up some speed. Fabian Gomez of Argentina, one of 14 players making his debut this week, made seven birdies in his round of 66. He joined Kisner and Patrick Reed (69) in the group four shots behind.

Reed didn’t make nearly enough birdies to keep pace. Except for the par 5s, he only had two chances inside 20 feet on the back nine.

“I didn’t quite hit the ball solid like I needed to and because of that, even though I was hitting a lot of greens, I wasn’t hitting it as close as yesterday,” Reed said. “But any time you can be 12 under through two rounds, within shouting distance of the lead, you have to take it and just go on to tomorrow.”

Reed fell out of the lead for the first time when Spieth made an 18-foot birdie on No. 8, and then Spieth took over with a chip from 35 feet behind the pin that broke sharply into the pin and disappeared.

But it was the back nine where Spieth built his lead.

Even this early in the year, he felt good enough with his driver to be aggressive on the 13th, and it led to a short wedge he hit to 3 feet. He driver again on the 14th, narrowly clearly a bunker and leaving a pitch just short of the green to 3 feet. And then from a hanging lie on the 15th, he drilled a 3-wood just off the back of the green and rolled the putt down to just over 4 feet for a third straight birdie.

“I wanted to prepare and start the year with a bang and for whatever reason its happened the two times here,” Speith said. “Again, we are only through 36 holes and there is a long ways to go still.

PGA golfer Dustin Johnson is introduced on the first tee box during the second round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions golf tournament at The Plantation Course. on Friday. Photo by Brian Spurlock of USA TODAY Sports.

PGA golfer Dustin Johnson is introduced on the first tee box during the second round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions golf tournament at The Plantation Course. on Friday. Photo by Brian Spurlock of USA TODAY Sports.

“For me it just comes down to no bogeys. If I can continue to limit those, or keep a blemish free card, I’ll be in good position. There are enough easy holes to take advantage of . . . patience will be the key to this weekend. There are going to be a lot of birdies made and my lead won’t be four when I tee off I guarantee it. And that is what’s tough on a course that yields a lot of birdies, you really have to stay patient and understand that you have more holes than they do.”

Spieth’s worst swing of the week with a 52-degree wedge was fat and smothered, and it left him a long, tough putt across the green to 6 feet. He made that for par, and holed a 7-footer for par on the 17th. The final putt was a bonus.

The putt looked like it would be short all the way, especially into the grain. It paused on the right side of the cup and then gravity took over, and Spieth extended his lead. As much as the three birdies built a cushion, the last three holes also played a big role.

“Those two (par) putts going in probably allowed the one on 18 to go in — that and the nice little cut-out lip on the right side of the hole,” Spieth said. There’s a chance that was three strokes. I go from leading by one to leading by four. And that’s huge.”

It matches his largest 36-hole lead since he was up by five halfway through the Masters. Els had a three-shot lead when he set the record at Kapalua at 17 under.

PGA golfer Davis Love III tees off on the first hole during the second round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions golf tournament at Kapalua Resort on Friday. Photo by Brian Spurlock of USA TODAY Sports.

PGA golfer Davis Love III tees off on the first hole during the second round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions golf tournament at Kapalua Resort on Friday. Photo by Brian Spurlock of USA TODAY Sports.

“First tournament of the year, kind of rusty, haven’t played in a while,” Kisner said. “Seeing where my game is, I’m looking forward to having a chance on the weekend.”

Danny Lee recovered from a bogey-bogey start to shoot 68 and was five shots behind. Rickie Fowler and Steven Bowditch each had 67 and were another shot back.

Jason Day, the No. 2 player in the world competing for the first time in three months, had a 73 and already was 12 shots behind. He would appear to have little chance of getting to No. 1 this week.

Click here for Saturday’s Third Round Tee Times.

  • 2016 Hyundai Tournament Leaderboard
Jan 7-10 – Purse: $5,900,000
Kapalua Resort – The Plantation Course – Kapalua, Hawaii, United States
Leaderboard – Ongoing R1 R2 R3 R4 Total Thru
1
Jordan Spieth
-7 -9 -16 18
T2
Kevin Kisner
-4 -8 -12 18
T2
Fabian Gomez
-5 -7 -12 18
T2
    Patrick Reed
-8 -4 -12 18
5
Danny Lee
-6 -5 -11 18
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