(Reuters) - Jordan Spieth shook off the rust that cost him in the opening round as he fired a sparkling seven-under-par 64 on Friday to surge into contention at the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Illinois.
The Masters and U.S. Open champion, playing his first PGA Tour event in three weeks, mixed an eagle at the par-five second with six birdies and a lone bogey to finish the second round at seven-under 135, three strokes off the clubhouse lead.
Fellow American Scott Pinckney fired a second successive 66 to set the early pace at the TPC Deere Run, with compatriots Bryce Molder (65) and Steve Wheatcroft (66) a further stroke back at nine under.
Spieth, who took time off after his U.S. Open win at Chambers Bay last month, was delighted to rebound from an opening 71 where his short game was especially rusty.
“Just another round of golf,” said the 21-year-old, who is using the John Deere Classic to tune up for next week’s British Open where he will aim to add the third leg of a grand slam of the majors.
“This was the third round of golf I’ve played since the U.S. Open. With the pro-am on Wednesday being the first full round and then yesterday, it’s just repetitions. I’m getting on-course reps and it’s making a difference.
“I’m working on some things coming off a little break there, and my putter ... I was a little more aggressive with it today and it paid off. Today was a solid round to get myself in a position to make a run at it (winning the tournament).”
Pinckney, a PGA Tour rookie whose best finish on the U.S. circuit was a tie for second at the AT&T Byron Nelson in May, recorded an eagle, five birdies and two bogeys to move into contention.
“I’m keeping it in the fairway, at least trying to, and just giving myself some good opportunities,” said Pinckney.
“These greens are in such good shape and I’m rolling the ball really well. That’s all I’m trying to do is just give myself a good look at it.”
The cut was projected to fall at three-under 139 with former major winners Lucas Glover, Retief Goosen, Trevor Immelman and David Toms among those in danger of missing out.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Gene Cherry