Hoffman leads; Spieth misses another cut
NORTON, Mass. (AP) — In a year of first-ever feats for Jordan Spieth, he accomplished another Saturday in the Deutsche Bank Championship.
Only this one was nothing to celebrate.
Spieth didn't make a birdie until the 18th hole, and by then it was too late. It salvaged a 3-over 74, not nearly enough to avoid missing the cut in consecutive events for the first time in his career.
"I've done a lot of things I've never done positively this year. This is something I've never done that's negative," Spieth said. "Whatever is going on ... normally my mental game is a strength of mine. And it's something I feel like I have an advantage over other players on. These past two weeks it was a weakness for me."
Charley Hoffman, who five years ago closed with a 62 to win on the TPC Boston, made birdie on half of his holes for a 63 that gave him a three-shot lead over Brendon de Jonge after 36 holes. Rickie Fowler (67) and British Open champion Zach Johnson (65) were another shot behind.
The second FedEx Cup playoff event nearly lost the top two players in the world.
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Rory McIlroy, who returned to No. 1 last week without playing, needed a par on the final hole to make the cut on the number. He got up-and-down from a bunker and made birdie for a 74 and made it with one shot to spare.
PGA champion Jason Day kept alive his hopes to be No. 1 for the first time with another 68 that left him in a tie for 10th, six shots behind.
It was the fourth straight round over par for Spieth, his longest such streak since he went five consecutive rounds at the British Open and PGA Championship two years ago. And even though he missed a second straight cut, he could return to No. 1 if Day does not win and McIlroy finishes out of the top 10.
Whatever is going through Spieth's mind, it didn't help that he showed up at the TPC Boston already 16 shots out of the lead.
Hoffman made a tap-in birdie on the par-3 11th round early in his second round, poured in four putts from the 12-foot range and three more from inside 5 feet. He traded a bogey with a birdie at the end to reach 12-under 130.
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The biggest difference from his last low round at the TPC Boston was that he left with the trophy. This time, he still has two more rounds before the Labor Day finish.
"It was a little different five years ago," Hoffman said. "I came from a decent back, so I didn't have to deal with the lead. Anytime you are in the lead you put a lot of pressure on yourself. And obviously I've got to deal with that tonight. ... Just try to keep doing what I'm doing, making a lot of putts and hitting a decent amount of fairways for me, which is a nice combo."
McIlroy is playing for only the second time since the U.S. Open because of an ankle injury, and much like the PGA Championship, his main problem was scoring. He had a pair of three-putt bogeys on the back nine as he started losing shots at an alarming rate until a key drive on the par-5 closing hole set up a birdie.
"I think it shows that I haven't really played much competitive golf," McIlroy said. "When I've given myself opportunities to get it close, then I'm not making putts. And I think I've had three or four three-putts in two days and just haven't really made anything. So it's been a bit of a struggle, more mentally, because I've just been trying to get something going. And there's nothing happening."
Spieth knows the feeling.
His goal for the week was to get under par as quickly as possible to get some momentum for the week, especially coming off the missed cut at The Barclays. Instead, he was 2 over through four holes, and the player who was chasing history so much this summer began chasing the cut. He was never particularly close after opening with 12 straight pars and then making bogeys.
He at least assured of being among the top five in the FedEx Cup going into the Tour Championship for a clear shot at the $10 million prize. And he has one more event at Conway Farms outside Chicago in two weeks before that.
"I need to walk with some cockiness in my step these next two tournaments," Spieth said. "I don't think I have to fix much in my game other than really work hard on my putting into Conway and then mentally I can control that. I can control walking with the cockiness, whether things are going good or bad, and that's what you have to have inside the ropes. And I'll bring it when we get to Chicago."
At least six players won't get that far because they were assured of finishing outside the top 70 who advance to the next playoff event.