Spieth eight back, still likes his chances

By Carl Steward
Published on

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- To hear Jordan Spieth talk at the halfway point of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, one would think he'd be in a lot better shape than he is.

"Boy, I'm hitting it great right now," Spieth said Friday after a 2-under 69 at Monterey Peninsula Country Club that left him 3 under overall and tied for 36th with two rounds to go, eight shots off the lead.

"I drove the ball spectacular," said the world's No. 1-ranked player. "I kind of fixed a little something in my driver, 3-wood and long irons after the round (Thursday). I just couldn't get it in the hole."

Sounding much like Tiger Woods often does when he's well off the pace, Spieth wasn't conceding anything.

"My game feels great," he said. "I'm playing much better than I'm scoring. As long as I kind of focus on that, I'm in good shape. I feel great about my chances for a low score this weekend. On Pebble, you get a couple good low rounds, and you never know with conditions out here, I'm still in the tournament."

In addition to his putting, Spieth, 22, said he hasn't taken advantage of the par-5s either of the first two days.

"I've been in such great position, but I'm just 1 under on the par-5s," he said. "From where I've been at (after his drive), they have pretty much been par-4s for me, so it almost feels like I'm playing them 7-over. It's bizarre."

--American Ryan Palmer, a 39-year-old journeyman among 13 players tied at 3 under, sank a hole-in-one at the 175-yard par-3 third hole at Spyglass Hill.

Palmer has had 11 aces in his career, so it wasn't all that special personally. But PGA Tour sponsor Quicken Loans has revived its hole-in-one sweepstakes, where golf fans can enter to have their house payments paid for a year whenever there's an ace by a tour player.

"It's pretty cool to be able to give somebody a free mortgage for a year," he said. "That's awesome."

--Japanese co-leader Hiroshi Iwata, who shot a 6-under 66 at Pebble Beach, was asked what he liked most about the course.

"I like the view, I like the view," he said in very limited English.

Asked if he was excited about playing Spyglass Hill on Saturday, Iwata nodded.

"I like the view, yeah," he said.

--Former A's third baseman Josh Donaldson, now the reigning American League MVP with the Toronto Blue Jays, was so proud of his four natural birdies in the opening round Thursday at MPCC that he tweeted the accomplishment.

"One was a pick-up," piped pro Pat Perez, who is playing in his foursome. "That doesn't really count."

Donaldson is playing with Jason Dufner, whom he has known for about six years. They hooked up in Auburn, Alabama, where Dufner lives and Donaldson went to school.

"We're 'boys," he said. "Jason's awesome, a great guy. And I'm so much having fun out here. This is my first time at Pebble Beach, and you don't get views like this anywhere in the world."

Donaldson is a playing at a 3 handicap in the tournament, and even though Dufner hasn't done much, the team is 11 under with a chance to make the pro-am cut. That means Donaldson is playing very well. He said he honed his golf skills in the Bay Area.

"When I was with the A's, I played all around the Bay Area -- the Olympic Club, San Francisco Golf Club and a lot of courses I can't even remember the names of," he said. "But they made me a better player."

This article was written by Carl Steward from The Oakland Tribune and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.