MEMPHIS — Jordan Spieth tried all week to reassure his caddie they could handle the heat at the FedEx St. Jude Championship.
Then, Friday happened.
“I’m like, ‘Man, I was wrong. I’m humbled. It’s just a different kind of heat,” said Spieth, who will go into Saturday’s third round in second place at 9 under, one shot behind leader Lucas Glover.
With the heat index climbing as high as 109 degrees late in the afternoon, Spieth and the rest of the 70-man field found themselves battling the elements again − just in a different way. In the 24 hours prior to the start of the tournament, TPC Southwind received 2.15 inches of rainfall, leaving many golfers muddied and fatigued by the spongy walk around the course.
But temperatures soared Friday.
“Pretty warm,” said Glover. “I didn’t get this wet in the shower this morning.”
Spieth tried his best to cope with the conditions, downing as many LivPur hydration packets he could get his hands on.
“Yeah, I was trying to force it down. I tried to force down food, too,” he said. “Just got to do anything to continue to have energy. It was hot. But it’s hot a lot. I’m not going to sit there and say we haven’t had this kind of heat before. But coming from the Scottish and British, it was certainly a little bit different.”
There were others who tried keeping the heat in perspective.
“Well, it’s better than playing in 50 mph winds at Royal Porthcawl how we just saw the other day,” said Tommy Fleetwood, who is 8 under, referring to the intense conditions at the Senior British Open. “It’s easier than that. “Obviously, the disadvantage is just how sweaty it is, how slippy your hands can be and the grips and everything. And, clearly, energy levels. You’ve really got to focus on that and make sure you’re drinking enough and sort of don’t get ahead of yourself on the golf course.”
The outlook for the rest of the tournament is not ideal. The high Saturday is expected to be 89 degrees and Sunday is expected to reach 95. Neither account for the heat index.