(Reuters) - Jordan Spieth rebounded from a shaky start to get his title defense back on track as he charged into a share of the lead after the second round of the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas on Friday.
The American world number one covered his final 13 holes in a sparkling seven under par to complete a six-under 66 in calm, receptive conditions at Albany Golf Club in New Providence.
That left Spieth at 11-under 133, level with compatriots Bill Haas (66) and Jimmy Walker (67), with three more Americans -- Chris Kirk (65), Patrick Reed (65) and Bubba Watson (67) -- a further stroke back.
Spieth, who coasted to victory by a massive 10 strokes in last year’s Hero World Challenge played at Windermere in Florida, was delighted with his “great bounce-back” in the second round at Albany.
“For the majority of the round, until (hole) 15, we had as scoreable conditions as possible,” Spieth told Golf Channel after surging into a three-way tie at the top in the elite 18-player event hosted by Tiger Woods to benefit his foundation.
“There was no wind, the greens were receptive. A rough start but boy it was a great bounce-back to go seven under after being one over through five holes.”
Masters and U.S. Open champion Spieth covered the nine holes from the sixth to the 14th in a sizzling seven under, the highlight coming at the par-five 11th where he recorded an eagle.
“That was really nice,” the 22-year-old Texan smiled, “To be able to reach that green in two after hitting into a very small gap there, then I got that long one (putt) to go in.”
Walker, playing in the final pairing of the day, joined Spieth and Haas at the top of the leaderboard after an impressive seven-birdie display that again proved his ongoing swing change is working out very well.
“Driving the golf ball today, I haven’t had that much fun in a long time, to be honest,” said Walker, who began working with his swing coach Butch Harmon last week on a different head move.
”It’s cool. It’s been just under a week in what we started doing and it’s still something I’ve got to think about. It’s not natural. It’s still something I have to work on.
“But I knew I was doing good things,” said Walker, who had been one of eight players tied for the lead at 10 under par late in the second round. “I look forward to the last two days here of continuing all this.”
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Ken Ferris