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GULLANE, Scotland -- Patience is rarely a virtue to a 19-year-old, not even one as grounded and gifted as Jordan Spieth, so it came as little surprise Friday that the American teen wonder got ahead of himself in pursuit of an unlikely Open Championship title.
After spending the first round trying to two-putt from 30 feet for relatively routine pars, Spieth spent the second round aiming closer to the pins. Why?
"Today I finally got to a point where I finally had enough and wanted to really hit it closer," he said. "And that's what happens when you try."
At 3-under and two shots off the lead as he stood in Muirfield's 15th fairway, Spieth ripped a 3-iron long and up against some fescue roots that compromised his chip shot back, a shot that rolled off the green and into the sand. That double-bogey preceded back-to-back bogeys and a point-blank birdie miss on 18 that would have compelled most players to start thinking about getting 'em next year.
But Spieth, who turns 20 next week, isn't most players. He still believes he can become the youngest player in more than 100 years to win a major (John J. McDermott, at 19 years, 10 months and 14 days, won the 1911 U.S. Open).
"This golf course is extremely difficult," said Spieth, whose 74 left him at 1-over 143. "So anybody that's within a few shots of par still has a chance to win the tournament with a good, solid round tomorrow and following it up on Sunday. I think there's supposed to be no wind. As long as we can navigate the tee balls, hold the fairways, you can still shoot under par."
By winning a five-hole playoff with David Hearn and Zach Johnson, the first-round leader at Muirfield, in last week's John Deere Classic, Spieth became the first teenager to win on the PGA Tour since Ralph Guldahl claimed the Santa Monica Open in 1931. But the only player other than Tiger Woods to win multiple U.S. Junior Amateurs debunked the notion that his late second-round fade was the result of the dramatic John Deere victory, the newfound fame and the cross-Atlantic trip to Scotland catching up to him.
"It wasn't like I was tired to the point where it affected my decision-making. ... I don't think that's fair," he said. "I think that's just my personality. It's difficult for me to stay extremely patient."
Millions of fellow teenagers could make the same claim.