YOUTH IS SWERVED

Spi­eth (21) and Reed (24) have ups and downs, but they’re tied for the lead.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Tod Leonard

UNIVER­SITY PLACE, Wash. — Jor­dan Spi­eth has al­ways seemed worldly be­yond his years, and now it seems as if his golf is ma­tur­ing by the round. Be­ing freshly fit­ted for a Mas­ters green jacket does won­ders for that.

On a Cham­bers Bay track primed with so many pit­falls that even a guy with no pulse could get steamed, the emo­tional and demon­stra­tive Spi­eth has (mostly) man­aged his tem­per as well as his game to put him­self in a po­si­tion to win a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive ma­jor at age 21.

Try­ing to back up his win in April at Au­gusta Na­tional, Spi­eth used the smooth greens and be­nign con­di­tions Fri­day morn­ing to score a three­un­der-par 67. Hours later, in the fad­ing sun­light, Pa­trick Reed, 24, came up an inch short on his par putt at the last hole to shoot 69 and stand in a tie for the lead with Spi­eth at five un­der.

Dustin John­son, who at one point on the front nine was tied with Reed at seven un­der, bo­geyed three of his last five holes, in­clud­ing the fi­nal two, to shoot 71 and drop into a tie at four un­der with South African Branden Grace, who shot 67 in the morn­ing.

The morn­ing side of the

draw was again ad­van­ta­geous, with the low­est scores com­ing from there.

Daniel Sum­mer­hays (three un­der) also matched Spi­eth’s 67. Long-hit­ting PGA Tour rookie Tony Finau (three un­der) fired a 68. The low­est score of the day was the 66 of J.B. Holmes, who moved to two un­der. That matched the 66 of Louis Oosthuizen, who re­cov­ered from an open­ing 77 while play­ing with the strug­gling Tiger Woods and Rickie Fowler to make the cut.

Top-ranked Rory McIl­roy could only match his open­ing 72 and made the cut at four over. De­fend­ing cham­pion Martin Kaymer, who shot 72-74, was among those who will be watch­ing over the week­end.

The best ex­am­ple of how Spi­eth is man­ag­ing him­self came at the end of his back nine. Spi­eth made a sloppy bo­gey at the sev­enth and couldn’t birdie the par-five eighth. He was vis­i­bly hot when he reached the tee of the stun­ning, down­hill, parthree ninth.

Only a cou­ple of years ago his cheeks might have been the color of a brand­ing iron. Now, Spi­eth re­fo­cused and hit a spec­tac­u­lar five-iron iron shot to six feet and con­verted for birdie. He had to wait a long time to even at­tempt the putt be­cause play­ing part­ner Jason Day had col­lapsed while walk­ing to the green.

“It’s def­i­nitely some­thing I’ve im­proved on,” Spi­eth said. “I don’t know if it’s my trade­mark, but it’s some­thing that maybe a few years ago may have got­ten to me a lit­tle bit more lead­ing up to that tee shot [at No. 9].

“But my pa­tience and re­al­iza­tion that this golf course is go­ing to test your nerve and it’s how you re­bound from it … cer­tainly kicked in there.”

Spi­eth made six birdies on the day and was four un­der for his round when he reached his ninth hole, the 18th, which is be­ing al­ter­nated as a par-five and par­four for the week. On Fri­day, it was a 514-yard par-four. Spi­eth found a bunker off the tee, barely es­caped, hit into a green­side bunker and ended up with a dou­ble bo­gey.

“This is the dumb­est hole I’ve ever seen in my life!” Spi­eth could be over­heard yap­ping to his cad­die, Michael Greller.

Of course, that’s why so many golf fans have be­come en­am­ored of the young Texan. He shows emo­tion and a fierce com­pet­i­tive drive.

The same has been said of Reed, though his at­ti­tude has been per­ceived as cock­i­ness by some. He has more than backed up his con­fi­dence, though, with four PGA Tour wins in the last two-plus sea­sons.

Reed also came into Cham­bers Bay with some­thing of com­pet­i­tive edge. He com­peted in the 2010 U.S. Am­a­teur here, where he shot a 68 dur­ing stroke play.

His Cham­bers Bay match-play ex­pe­ri­ence that year reached ur­ban leg­end pro­por­tions when he and op­po­nent Scott Langley took so many hacks on the first hole that, some­where around eight strokes each, they had to ask the rules of­fi­cial the score. Langley was awarded the hole and even­tu­ally won, 1-up.

On Fri­day, Reed had a tu­mul­tuous round, and in one stretch from the sev­enth through 13 holes he went bo­gey-birdie-bo­gey-bo­gey-birdie-ea­gle-bo­gey, rolling in a long putt for a two on the 284-yard 12th hole.

Reed wasn’t only tied with Spi­eth, he agreed with him about the 18th, call­ing the pin po­si­tion a “Mickey Mouse lo­ca­tion” af­ter mak­ing a bo­gey.

Matt York As­so­ci­ated Press

PA­TRICK REED didn’t like pin po­si­tion on No. 18.

David Cannon Getty Im­ages

RORY McIL­ROY GIVES his club a kick af­ter his sec­ond shot on the sev­enth hole. He trails by nine shots.

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