Jordan Spieth finished the CJ Cup's second-round tied for second, five shots behind leader Keith Mitchell. But despite a few mishaps on the back nine, Spieth's feeling good about his position through 36 holes.
After firing a front-nine 31, Spieth started the second nine missing a 7-footer for par and it would be deja vu two holes later. However, with three bogeys on Day 2 in Las Vegas came eight birdies, one more than Round 1. And the 28-year-old Texan was focused on the good rather than the bad after his round.
"I would say today I feel a little bit better," said Spieth, who shot a 7-under 65 Friday, one shot better than Thursday. "Yesterday, I had a three-putt on a par 5 and another bogey from 100 yards in the fairway. At least today when I made that big mistake, I mean on 12, making that bogey there, I came back and made up for it the next few. You're looking to kind of play 12 through - you know, 12 through 18 in 3 under, you're trying to play a few under in the first seven and then 8 through 11 are really the tough stretch of holes out here. I got back to, on par for the course I felt like, so I feel a little better about it."
But the highlight of Spieth's round was an eagle on the par-5 sixth. After the world No. 12's tee shot breezed 314 yards through the air to the fairway, he grabbed a 3-wood from his bag and smashed the ball another 284 yards before converting a 14-foot putt.
"It was funny, after I hit the shot and I walked over to [caddie] Michael [Greller], I'm like, I'm laughing at how I had no chance hitting that shot at this tournament last year if we're here," Spieth said. "So progress is made to step up and trust it into the wind. If I hit it off the heel at all, it's in the water. If you toe it at all, it's in the desert. It was 280 yards into the breeze, you're at altitude, but I needed to hit a striped 3-wood. And it was a cool shot kind of for me personally because that's one, especially with a 3-wood into the wind, that I really struggled with."
At last year's CJ Cup at Shadow Creek, the three-time major winner was ranked No. 75 in the world and was in the midst of a career-worst slump. By late January, Spieth fell as low as No. 92 in the world rankings, before rattling off nine top-10 finishes for the season and notching his first win since 2017 at the Valero Texas Open.
After getting his swagger back, Spieth once again trusts his play as he looks to start his ninth season off on the right foot. Although he will have to exceed Mitchell by at five shots, while fending off Harry Higgs, Adam Scott and Seonghyeon Kim - with whom he's T-2 - and the rest of the field for the next two days, Spieth is up for the challenge.
"So that actually feels good being at 12 under or 13 under and actually feeling like I'm way behind because that will help me," he said. "When you've got it going that well, you can't really think that you're going to shoot 36 under, but setting a legitimate goal to kind of keep your head down, forget about the last two days and move forward, I think is the key."