August 7, 2015 / 7:59 PM / 4 years ago

Closing birdie gives Spieth welcome relief

Feb 20, 2015; Pacific Palisades, CA, USA; Jordan Speith tees off on the 12th during the second round of the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club. Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

AKRON, Ohio (Reuters) - A birdie finish put a welcome smile on Jordan Spieth’s face after nothing seemed to go quite right for him over the previous five holes in the second round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on Friday.

The Masters and U.S. Open champion ended with a two-under-par 68 on a difficult day for scoring at a sun-baked Firestone Country Club, good enough to lift him into contention for the elite World Golf Championships event, six shots behind clubhouse leader Jim Furyk.

Spieth, who posted a two-under total of 138, was totally exasperated with just one hole to play.

“I’m really happy with the finish,” Spieth told reporters after hitting a pinpoint approach to three feet on his final hole, the par-four ninth, before sinking the birdie putt.

“Even though I only hit three greens on the front nine, my back nine, I hit a lot of really good shots. (On holes) four through seven, I didn’t feel like I missed a shot, and I was two-over on those holes. That was really frustrating.

“When I was on number eight, after I caught a flier on that second, I was as frustrated as I’ve been in a while on the course just because I didn’t know what I could be doing any better.”

On another hot day at Firestone where the greens were firming up and becoming increasingly difficult to hold with approach shots, the 22-year-old American was also bamboozled by shifting breezes on his back nine.

“I’m playing the wind,” said second-ranked Spieth, a three-times winner on the PGA Tour, who would replace the absent Rory McIlroy as world number one with a victory this week.

“The wind shoots it one way when it’s supposed to go the other, or the ball is flying a little shorter or further than expected. I just couldn’t quite get it nailed in to the right number.”

Editing by Andrew Both

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