SAN ANTONIO — When most PGA Tour gamers are snug, they strut by way of a golf course with a carefree and assured demeanor.
When Jordan Spieth is in his happy place, there’s fixed chatter, nervous fan interplay, eye rolls and aw-shucks head shaking.
Suffice to say all of these have been on show throughout the third spherical of the Valero Texas Open, as the previous University of Texas star was smack dab in his favourite spot — leading a golf event in his dwelling state.
Spieth dug himself out of some difficult situations as solely he can, weaving his strategy to a 31 on the again 9 at TPC San Antonio’s Oaks Course, and pushing right into a tie for the lead with Matt Wallace at 12 below.
Perhaps his most opulent escape got here on No. 17, when he adopted a 334-yard drive into a set space by opening the face on a wedge and hitting a full flop shot to 30 inches. Spieth tapped in the brief birdie putt and rolled his head as if to confess he’d simply pulled a Houdini.
“So I guess my ball got onto the cart path and then ran to the end of it. You can miss that tee shot right if you want all day and it stays short of pin high and it’s a pretty easy up and down to that pin. So I was in a tough spot,” he stated of the escapade on the second-to-last gap. “Got a drop from the cart path and just ended up on some kind of hardpan stuff. I was looking to lay up way to the left and then walked up to the green and saw that that was just as difficult as going at the hole, so I figured may as well go to the hole in case I pull the shot off.
“I think I told Wally it was like a one in 10, but it was maybe like a one in five. It’s kind of like a half-long bunker shot almost. For it to go the right distance is certainly fortunate, but I was just trying to make four and got a bonus out of it.”
For the primary time in what has appeared like ceaselessly — between a chronic hunch and the pandemic — the day’s greatest crowds have been following Spieth all alongside the Greg Norman design, chirping at almost each shot and spurring him on.
After a heat reception in Austin for final week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Spieth is feeling the love, not solely of his dwelling state, however from Tour followers who haven’t seen him win since 2017’s Open Championship. And whereas profitable a second inexperienced jacket can be the last word prize, Spieth insisted he’s solely trying on the subsequent 24 hours.
“Winning here would be … I mean, winning a PGA Tour event is a very, very difficult thing to do and I’ve certainly been humbled in that process over the last few years. First, I’m focused on this week, always have been. I haven’t thought ahead whatsoever,” Spieth stated. “I thought the best prep for next week is to work yourself into contention and just kind of see where all facets of the game are under pressure. I got quite a bit of that today to test out and hopefully make some improvements for tomorrow.”
He’ll face stern competitors from Wallace, who matched his 67 immediately and likewise stands at 12 below, and Charley Hoffman, who fired a 65 and is simply two again of the leaders.
But both manner, he’s merely happy to be in the hunt, twitching and chortling as solely he can, displaying his anxiousness like no different participant does.
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS – APRIL 03: Jordan Spieth strains up a putt on the fourth inexperienced throughout the third spherical of Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio Oaks Course on April 03, 2021 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
“Trust me, I feel the nerves even when you’re not playing well because sometimes you’re even more nervous because you don’t know where the damn ball’s going to go,” Spieth stated. “It’s nice feeling comfortable under pressure, I think that’s the most important thing. You start doing it more often and you feel more comfortable under pressure and that’s kind of why we play the game at this level, that’s what’s fun for us.”