KAPALUA, HAWAII – A new year, and everything is falling Jordan Spieth’s way.
Spieth chipped in for eagle, made a pair of tough par saves late and ended his round Friday with a 15-foot birdie putt into the grain that stopped on the lip and then dropped into the cup for a 9-under 64. It gave him a four-shot lead in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
Two rounds into 2016, it already feels a lot like last year.
Spieth is making putts. Spieth is holing chips. Spieth is in the lead.
For all the talk about how he can match what he did last year — two majors, five victories — it might be just as tough to repeat what he has done the opening two rounds. Spieth was at 16-under 130, one short of the 36-hole record at Kapalua set by Ernie Els in 2003.
“Did I see 16 under? Probably not to start the season,” Spieth said.
Kevin Kisner, coming off a big year of his own with his first victory and four runnerup finishes, missed a couple of short birdie putts and still shot his way around the Plantation Course with ease for an 8-under 65 that earned him a spot in the final group with Spieth on Saturday.
“What’s Jordan at? I saw he was at 15,” Kisner said when he finished. “He’ll probably shoot another 15 (under), so I better get going tomorrow, the way he plays. We’ll just make a bunch of birdies and see what happens.”
Birdies have not been in short supply this week with only a moderate breeze and a blazing sun that is making Kapalua pick up some speed. Fabian Gomez of Argentina, one of 14 players making his debut this week, made seven birdies in his round of 66. He joined Kisner and Patrick Reed (69) in the group four shots behind.
Reed didn’t make nearly enough birdies to keep pace. Except for the par 5s, he only had two chances inside 20 feet on the back nine.
“I didn’t quite hit the ball solid like I needed to and because of that, even though I was hitting a lot of greens, I wasn’t hitting it as close as yesterday,” Reed said. “But any time you can be 12 under through two rounds, within shouting distance of the lead, you have to take it and just go on to tomorrow.”
Reed fell out of the lead for the first time when Spieth made an 18-foot birdie on No. 8, and then Spieth took over with a chip from 35 feet behind the pin that broke sharply into the pin and disappeared.