Two days into the British Open, and Jordan Spieth has played in the morning drizzle and afternoon downpour.
He has seen the worst of the weather at Royal Birkdale and has made the most of it. He heads into the weekend leading by two strokes at six under par. That alone should concern his fellow competitors, seeing as Spieth — winner of the Masters and U.S. Open in 2015 — doesn't typically move backward (with apologies to No. 12 at Augusta). He has converted five of nine 36-hole leads on the PGA Tour into wins, including five of his last six.
Spieth spent Friday morning watching television coverage of the tournament, the wind blowing shots all over the course. He knew worse weather was scheduled for the afternoon, and he had to head out.
"I would have gladly stayed on the couch," he said after shooting a 69. "The wind was going to drop maybe five miles an hour, but it was going to get wet. And that was only going to make it play harder than it was playing this morning.
"It's difficult when it's raining to really have full control of the club face where the ball is going. You get a little water in between the ball and the face, and it could scoot way right or way left. So at that point this morning, it was tough watching. It wasn't a great feeling knowing we were coming into something harder than we were watching."
In a muddled field, Spieth has emerged as the man to beat, not surprising considering his success in major championships, and that he has already won two tournaments this year.
"Any time you're in the last group on a weekend in a major — probably a dozen times I've had at least a share of the lead in major championships — you get nervous," he said. "And I'll be feeling it this weekend a bit. But I enjoy it because as long as I approach it positively and recognize this is what you want to feel, because you're in a position you want to be in, then the easier it is to hit solid shots and create solid rounds."
There were two critical junctures for Spieth on the back nine. He chipped in for par on No. 10, and made eagle on No. 15 when he lashed a three-wood to the center of the green on a 542-yard par-five hole.
Spieth called that long shot "gross" and said he noticed on the telecast that it was OK to be past the green, as long as he didn't wind up in a bunker.
"I lined up way left with the whipping wind off the left, just to open the face and have [the ball] get anywhere around or over the green," he said. "I hit it low off the heel, which is easy to do when you're trying to carve a cut. And it just one-hop, scooted around the group of bunkers there, and then it was obviously fortunate to get all the way to the green."
To continue to play well, Spieth said, he needs to get more production out of his drives.
"I didn't think I drove the ball incredibly well yesterday, either," he said. "It's close. It's very close… but control of the ball off the tee is going to be probably the most important statistic for me this weekend."
That, and what it says atop the leaderboard on Sunday night.