Crane swoops into Byron Nelson lead, Spieth one back

Reuters News
Posted: May 20, 2016 3:51 PM

(Reuters) - Hometown favourite Jordan Spieth struggled with his iron play but drained two lengthy birdie putts to move within one stroke of leader Ben Crane after the second round at the weather-hit AT&T Byron Nelson in Texas on Friday.

The U.S. Open champion kept errors to a minimum as he followed his opening 64 with a five-under-par 65 at the rain-softened TPC Four Seasons Resort in Irving.

He ended the round equal second with Spaniard Sergio Garcia (66) and Americans Brooks Koepka (64) and Bud Cauley (65), while Crane (63) set the halfway pace at 12-under 128.

Spieth, who missed the cut at last week's Players Championship in his first PGA Tour start since his shocking collapse at last month's Masters, was happy to make "limited mistakes" but acknowledged need for improvement.

"Again, I just took advantage of the easier holes," the 22-year-old told reporters. "Had a couple of longer putts go in today and found both the par-fives in two to two-putt and tap in for those two birdies.

"So very limited mistakes. I have three-putted 13 twice and that's really the only mistakes that I have made this week, even not quite feeling like I have my best iron play right now."

Spieth, a seven-time winner on the PGA Tour who is known for his brilliant putting, said he felt much more in control of his game on the green than with an iron in his hand.

"You'd certainly like to feel like you have full control over the ball every time you step over it but that's not reality in golf," the American world number two smiled. "I'd like to have a bit more.

"I don't feel like I am tied for the lead right now, it's not the feeling I have when I stand over an iron shot but when I stand over my putter right now, it's back to where we like to have it."

Crane flew into the lead with an eight-birdie sortie that included a 70-foot bunker shot that rolled deliciously into the middle of the cup at the third hole.

The 40-year-old has been missing in action since he won in Memphis two years ago, a slump he puts down to too much tinkering with his swing.

"As a pro golfer you just want to get better. Changing stuff isn’t always the answer," said the five-time PGA Tour winner.

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles and Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Steve Keating)