If you thought the 2014 PLAYERS Championship was going to turn into a runaway, think again.
While Martin Kaymer continued some of the great play that had him looking like one of the best players in the world again, his pace understandably slowed down just a little bit. When that happened, it opened the door for Jordan Spieth to go low and make a real contest out of this thing.
Spieth, making his tournament debut at TPC Sawgrass, shot the lowest round of the day on Friday, a six-under-par round of 66, improving on his Thursday score by a stroke. In a week that’s seen past champions like Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott struggle just to break par, Spieth’s maiden voyage is proving just how flawed some of the conventional wisdom can be once again.
First-timers routinely struggle at Sawgrass, which can be far more challenging than it first appears, even when the greens are supposed to be softer and more accessible following a harsh winter. Of course, they said the same thing about Augusta National, and we all remember how that turned out. Spieth has played two days of bogey-free golf, and has hardly shown a sign of falling back.
To be totally fair, this isn’t the first time Spieth has played the PGA Tour home course – he played it as a junior several years ago – but like so many other Tour stops, it’s his first time seeing it at this level. To hear him tell it, though, it’s just business as usual, and that has a lot to do with his continued success.
“Every course I’ve played over the past few years has been a brand new course to me,” Spieth told USA TODAY. “It’s only this year I’m seeing places a second time. Even junior to college golf, I only played a year in college, so I only saw those courses once. It’s nothing new. I played a junior event here a long time ago, but not in the same setting or with the same game. I don’t see that it’s necessarily a first‑time thing. It’s just normal.”
While “normal” isn’t likely the word most of us would use to describe Spieth’s path to stardom, it seems to be working out pretty well. As the weekend rolls on at the Tour’s flagship tournament, don’t be surprised if “normal” could lead to a new trophy for his collection.