Just like that, Masters champion Jordan Spieth is back in contention for another PGA title after shooting a 9-under 62 Friday at the RBC Heritage.
The 21-year-old Texan looked closer to missing the cut than challenging for the lead with a 3-over 74 in Thursday’s opening round that left him tied for 93rd and eight shots behind.
But Spieth bounced back in a big way with a nine-birdie, no-bogey performance to finish at 6-under 136, two shots behind leader and defending champion Matt Kuchar.
Graeme McDowell, the 2013 champion, was at 7-under after a 69 Friday with half the field still on the course for second-round play.
Spieth was a shot off the course record of 61 set by David Frost in 1994. It was the lowest round at Harbour Town Golf Links since Peter Lonard opened the 2005 event with a 62 on the way to capturing the title.
“That was just better golf,” Spieth said. “I told you guys yesterday, no excuses. I just played poorly.”
Spieth’s play on Thursday ended a 16-round streak of shooting under par in his past four events – a win at the Valspar Championship, seconds at the Texas and Houston Opens and his record-tying 18-under triumph at Augusta National last weekend where he matched Tiger Woods’ winning mark from 1997.
Spieth said he corrected his ball position and cured the slice that kept him off target Thursday.
“I went back to posture, ball position, hand position and tempo,” he explained. “And I struck that ball quite a bit better.”
Kuchar, playing in the same group with Spieth, tried to keep pace in shooting a 66 for a 36-hole total of 8-under 134. Kuchar was up to 9-under before a bogey on the seventh hole knocked him back. He needed par saves on his final two holes to stay in front.
Kuchar said Spieth’s showing pushed him to play better, too.
“I was fun to be alongside Jordan Spieth,” Kuchar said. “We were going back and forth. He played fantastic today. And I think you get a couple of guys playing some good golf, there’s definitely got to be some momentum that helps the two keep going along.”