FARMINGDALE, N.Y. -- Jordan Spieth's quest to retain the FedEx Cup trophy was aided by a solid round on Friday at the Barclays, as the World No. 3 shot a four-under 67 at Bethpage Black.
This leaves the 23-year-old at four-under 138 through 36 holes, just four shots off the midday lead. However, Spieth's round was off to an abysmal start, recording a double bogey on his opening hole, Bethpage's challenging par-4 10th thanks to a tee shot that went far left and deep into the rough. Crediting his caddie Michael Greller, Spieth said the duo were able to just put that hole aside them and get on with the round.
"Yeah, it's moments like 11 tee box where I really credit Michael a lot for stepping in there and being a real positive voice, saying, 'You got really screwed on that shot,'" Spieth said. "You did exactly what we wanted to do on the second shot on 10. Let's find the fairway here, get into rhythm and pretend that didn't happen."
Still Spieth was two over after eight holes and making the cut became a real question, as the projected cut line was two over and scoring conditions were quickly improving with the afternoon wave beginning to play. A slow start in the FedEx Cup isn't new for Spieth, who missed the cut a year ago at the Barclays and Deutsche Bank Championship before rallying to win the Tour Championship and the overall title.
"Right now, it never crossed my mind to think of a missed cut last year. This is my fourth year now. There's been plenty of tournaments I've gone to after missing cuts. I've played tournaments where I've played really well and missed the cut. [The] Players I think is a great tournament for me, and I've missed the cut the last two years."
Spieth recorded a quick birdie before making the turn onto the front nine, promptly making another on the second hole and then an eagle on the par-5 fifth after knocking his second shot just two feet from the hole.
"At that point, I'm thinking, 'Let's go ahead and try to get to even for the tournament.' But we started getting some momentum. Obviously the eagle jumps you up there a bit. And I got it to four under there on the seventh hole after a good tee shot, I was left with a pretty simple chance of making birdie. Nice to finish those last two with two pars."
On the day, Spieth hit eight of 14 fairways, 11 of 18 greens and gained three strokes putting. He ascended 26 spots on the leader board to a tie for seventh at midday. As great as he has putted, though, Spieth has prioritized driving to bring his game to a winning level.
"That's going to be the key for me the next couple days," he said. "I still don't feel great about the way I swung the driver. I found some fairways towards the end but I need to kind of try and figure out a ball flight I know I can play on each hole, whether it's a draw or a fade."