The Open: PGA already on Jordan Spieth’s mind as he grinds his way through

Jordan Spieth reacts after finishing his round on day two of the Open Championship at Royal Troon (Picture: Peter Byrne/PA Wire).
Jordan Spieth reacts after finishing his round on day two of the Open Championship at Royal Troon (Picture: Peter Byrne/PA Wire).
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American Jordan Spieth admits he does not currently have the game to compete in majors, but that will not stop him trying to get something out of the final two days of the Open.

The 22-year-old, the 2015 Masters and US Open champion, made the cut right on the mark of four over.

Sheffield's Danny Willett had to hole a 12ft putt for par at the last to make the cut (Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire).

Sheffield's Danny Willett had to hole a 12ft putt for par at the last to make the cut (Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire).

He is 14 shots off the lead set by compatriot Phil Mickelson and accepts he cannot hope to make any kind of impact from so far back, especially the way he is hitting it.

But there are other benefits to making the weekend and he plans to set himself a realistic target with one eye already on the US PGA later this month.

“We might have caught the rough end of the draw, that happens,” said Spieth after experiencing the worst of the afternoon wind and rain.

“But at four over par my game is not major championship-winning calibre in those first two rounds.

“It just made it pretty interesting and actually somewhat nervous on the last five, six holes because I’d really like to play the weekend.

“In all honesty that does good stuff for me as if I’m not going to have the nerves of competing on Sunday I may as well have some kind of nerves, which was grinding to make the cut.

“It’s worth setting a goal for the weekend, shoot maybe eight under over the next two days and see where that falls.

“I’ll have to look at the conditions to make a somewhat lofty, realistic goal but it’s certainly worth shooting after and trying to gain some momentum.

“I’m looking to put in some nice, smooth, solid swings and very confident putts to lead into the PGA Championship because I know my chances here are likely finished.”

Weather was not the only issue Spieth struggled with yesterday.

Aside from struggling to keep his ball striking in check he also had difficulty visualising some shots in a situation that was totally alien to him.

“Some of the shots that have been presented this week are presented maybe a couple times in a decade in a tournament in terms of where you’re lining up,” he added.

“I may be exaggerating, but I haven’t experienced some of the shots I’ve hit this week where you line up at a target that is so far off line and work it away from the line you want to hit it on.”

Always the competitor, the two-time major winner was determined to salvage something from the day despite the weather making him feel like he wanted to give up.

“You wish your score didn’t matter when you play in this,” he said.

“You wish this was just a round with your buddies where you go into the clubhouse and have one or seven pints afterwards.

“What we had on 16 tee when I looked up and you see the sheets of water moving sideways, legitimately sheets of water moving sideways.

“I can’t remember anything that significant. I can’t remember seeing the wind move a ball that much.”

Rory McIlroy, champion two years ago, was pleased to add a 71 to his opening 69 to remain two under alongside US Open champion Dustin Johnson, who returned a 69.

Meanwhile, Colin Montgomerie received a welcome surprise by making the halfway cut on his home course.

Montgomerie, who hit the opening shot of the tournament at 6.35am on Thursday, thought bogeys at the 15th and 18th in a second round of 75 had ruined his chances of making the final two rounds.

But as driving wind and rain sent scores soaring for the later starters, the cut moved from two over par to four over and allowed the likes of Montgomerie and major champions Graeme McDowell, Spieth, Sheffield’s Danny Willett and Bubba Watson to survive on the mark.

Speaking to reporters immediately after his round, the 53-year-old said: “It was tough. Thursday morning we got done in the wind and in the afternoon it went flat calm.

“It’s one of those things I’m afraid. We got done with the tee times. I needed some help and I did not get it unfortunately. It’s a shame, very much a shame. It happens.”

Watson had to birdie the 18th to make the cut while McDowell was furious with himself after a double bogey on the 15th and a bogey on the 16th had seemingly ended his chances.

Masters champion Willett has been struggling for form and had missed the cut in his last two events, but birdied the 16th and crucially holed from 12 feet for par on the last.

“I’ve missed a couple of cuts by one and so it was nice to not do it again,” the 28-year-old said.

“It’s so penal out there and we almost played every hole into the wind because you’ve got the wind switched around the turn. Whenever your umbrella’s horizontal trying to keep the rain off you, it’s always going to be a tricky one.”

Willett’s fellow Sheffielder Matt Fitzpatrick endured a miserable day, adding a nine-over-par 80 to his first-round 73.

He was unable to card a single birdie, and had slipped to four over by the turn after following a bogey at six with another at the next.

On the back nine he compounded three successive bogeys from hole 11 with double bogeys at both 15 and 18.