CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Jordan Spieth all but conceded that his pursuit of the career Grand Slam will have to wait until next year, so he’s approaching the final two rounds of the PGA Championship like he has nothing to lose.
Hideki Matsuyama motored through a dampened Quail Hollow with a 7-under 64 that gave him a share of the lead with Kevin Kisner (67) in the PGA Championship.
Phil Mickelson is well below the projected cut at the PGA Championship, meaning he’ll miss his second cut at a major championship this season for a second straight year.
Halfway through the 99th PGA Championship, there’s plenty of golf left. So who will take advantage and jump up the leaderboard Saturday at Quail Hollow?
Spieth shot a 2-over 73 on Friday to move to 3 over for the tournament but slipped 11 strokes behind the co-leaders when the second round was suspended due to darkness with some two dozen players still on the course.
“I kind of accept the fact that I’m essentially out of this tournament, pending some form of crazy stuff the next couple of days,” Spieth said. “But I’m sure going to give it a try.”
Closer to the projected cut line of 5 over than to co-leaders Kevin Kisner and Hideki Matsuyama, Spieth joked that it would take a round of “probably 54” to get back in it before adding that he just wants to score “as low as I can go.”
Three weeks after a late surge helped him win the The Open and claim the third leg of the career Grand Slam, the 24-year-old was trying to become the youngest player to have won all four major championships.
After ending the first round five strokes off the lead, Spieth acknowledged he needed to close the gap during Round 2 to give himself a chance.
Instead, it more than doubled.
A day after Spieth didn’t make a putt longer than 5 feet on the new greens at Quail Hollow, he made only two from 10 feet or longer — a 10-footer for par on No. 7 and a 12-footer on the 12th for his only birdie of the round.
“Things were in just such tough locations that it was hard to get the ball to feed to the hole,” Spieth said. “So it’s a tough track where they’re putting these flagsticks. It makes it tough to score. … Just really didn’t get many looks today, so with one birdie, it’s going to be hard to post a solid round.”
With the tricky greens softer and slower after a 1-hour, 45-minute rain delay, Spieth missed birdie putts of between 10 and 40 feet on three consecutive holes: Nos. 15-17.
That came after he ran into trouble on the 10th. His drive on the par-5 10th sliced so far right that he had to drop in a patch of pine straw to take relief from a cart path. His shot from that position went straight across the fairway and into more pine straw on the left side. His next shot ricocheted off a tree and found yet more pine straw .
Then came an approach that hit the edge of the green but rolled back, a chip that he left short and, finally, an 8-foot putt for his second bogey of the round.
He also bogeyed the par-4 18th after he sent his tee shot into a fairway bunker, then clipped the lip of the trap when he tried to escape and sent that shot left of the green and left his chip short, prompting him to take an extra swing of his wedge in frustration. He missed a 10-foot par putt and tapped in for bogey.
“It was definitely a lot more gettable after the rain delay than before, no doubt about it,” Spieth said. “I played even par [actually 1 over] after the delay, and that’s not very good in my opinion.”
One of the main subplots this week at Quail Hollow is Spieth’s chase to become the sixth player with a career Grand Slam.
Unless he comes up with a colossal rally, Tiger Woods will remain the youngest player to complete the career Grand Slam. When Spieth tees it up next year at Bellerive, he will be about six months older than Woods was when he polished off his slam at the The Open in 2000.
“On to the weekend, to try to fire at stuff,” Spieth said. “Nothing to lose.”