There's no telling what the next three days at Royal St. George's hold for Jordan Spieth. This could be the beginning of a triumphant 54-hole march carrying the same momentum felt in his blistering opening round, in which he looked like the old version of himself — you know, the three-time major champion seemingly destined to rack up an intensely crooked number of trophies. Or it could cascade toward a familiar waterfall of disappointment, as closing the deal on his resurgent play has remained an elusive piece in the quest to reassemble the puzzle.
But these glimpses are a sight for sore eyes. Spieth, whose collision course with consistent greatness was derailed for years, has reclaimed a certain status on Tour this year one long internal and not-so-internal monologue at a time.
He won at his homestate Valero Open a week before posting third at the Masters. He's earned six Top-4 finishes and two other Top-10s. He's been in the conversation, fighting back from the periphery of what ever happened to ... thought bubbles. And he elevates it.
When Spieth is pouring in birdies and wielding his famous putter, golf is more alive. He's not a bombastic star but could one of the sport's most normal. Emotions reflect off his figure like mid-day rays, from self-deprecation to earnest scholar trying to shape the next shot. This may not pass for high-minded commentary, but it's simply excellent.
Teeing off early on Thursday, the former Open champion ripped off four straight birdies on No. 5-8 and added consecutive ones to the tally on No. 15 and No. 16. If he was on the green, he was in scoring position. Spieth bested the entire 156-player field save for Louis Oosthuizen, who did one shot better amid his own incredible streak of major leaderboard longevity.
Friday brings an afternoon start and the promise of toothier winds. Keeping the driver calibrated to the fairway won't be as easy. Yet the player we saw darting to the front of the pack for four hours looked a lot like one of the most capable links players currently walking between tall grasses.
Spieth was off-course for so long that even his biggest supporters had their moments of doubts about it ever feeling like it once did. His path seems so much clearer now. He's right in position to make an aggressive approach to the weekend. A once-familiar feeling is starting to creep back.
It's more than welcome to stay.