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The Loop

Spieth makes cut, but might miss graduation

May 27, 2011

IRVING, Texas - Looks like Jordan Spieth is going to miss his high school graduation. His classmates at Jesuit College Prep School will be picking up their diplomas about 4 p.m. Saturday at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. At about that time the 17-year-old Spieth, who will be a freshman at the University of Texas in the fall, will be on the back nine at TPC Four Seasons Resort Las Colinas playing in the third round of the HP Byron Nelson Championship.

Spieth, who finished T-16 here last year, easily made the cut again as he backed up his opening round 69 with a 68 Friday to be a three-under-par through 36 holes, just five strokes off the midway lead of Ryan Palmer going into the weekend.

The 2009 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship winner certainly has a home-course advantage. Spieth plays here often, frequently picking up a game with Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, who is a member, and once with former President George W. Bush, and is the clear crowd favorite. 'The crowds just kept growing and growing out there," Spieth said after his solid second round.

But familiarity or not, to open a PGA Tour event with consecutive rounds in the 60s on a par-70 golf course at the age of 17 is a tremendous achievement. Any nerves he felt Thursday, when he began with bogeys on two of the first three holes and made a double bogey on the back nine, were erased in a flurry of six birdies.

"I didn't have the nerves off the first tee like I did yesterday," a remarkably composed and mature Spieth said after his 68 Friday. "There were not as many people on the first tee in the morning. No one wanted to get up that early." He teed off at 9 a.m. Friday compared to 1:45 p.m. on Thursday.

On Friday, he stumbled at the end; playing his last five holes two over par after opening his back nine with three birdies in four holes. Spieth hit a lot of fairways Friday - 71 percent - and averaged 305 yards off the tee. He missed greens - hitting only 56 percent in regulation - but made up for that by using the putter only 23 times. Through two rounds, he has just 48 putts. That'll save you a lot of strokes.

"My putter has never felt better in my life," Spieth said. "The ball striking is coming." If there was a momentum-saving putt it was the 8-footer he rolled in on No. 15 for bogey. "That was a really, really big putt," Spieth said. "If I had made a double there, I would have given back all I had worked for."

As for graduation on Saturday?

"Hopefully, I'll play well enough to be in here again, but then I'll shoot right over there." With 250 in his graduating class, and being an "S" in alphabetical order, maybe he'll luck out and they won't have gotten to him yet. Then maybe he can carry that luck into the final round of the Byron Nelson on Sunday. He certainly has the skill.

-- Ron Sirak