Can Jordan Spieth convert his 36-hole lead at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am?

It's going to be a big weekend for Jordan Spieth as he chases a 12th PGA Tour win, but a first in nearly four years.

Is it possible? Can it be? Is Jordan Spieth back to his best?!

He heads into the weekend at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am leading the field by one stroke on 12-under 132 and he seems to be flying high on confidence, his bounce and mojo rediscovered.

In last week's Waste Management Phoenix Open he claimed a first top five finish since May 2019.

Can he now push on and land a first victory since the 2017 Open Championship?

Let's dig deep into the various angles.

The numbers

The first two rounds have been something of a tour de force for the 27-year-old.

He opened the tournament at Pebble Beach and swapped six birdies and an eagle-2 (holing out from the fairway) with just the one bogey.

He spent Friday at Spyglass Hill and it was a similar story: six birdies and one bogey.

It was noted last week that despite the upturn in form he was struggling to find fairways and that remains the case - he ranks T95th in the field, landing just 17 of 28 (60.71%).

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The rest of his game, however, is strong. He ranks seventh for Greens in Regulation (28 of 36), sixth for Scrambling (87.50%) and eighth for Putt Average (1.607).

He's also leading the Par-4 scoring this week and that's a stat that matters this week: four of the last five winners ranked top two in the category.

(Note that Strokes Gained stats are not being collected at Spyglass Hill so don't yet reveal much.)

This week versus his past performance at Pebble

Spieth has a fine record in this tournament.

He's 8-for-8 at making the cut, has only once finished worse than T22nd, has four top tens and one of those was a victory (2017).

His Driving Accuracy this week might be a concern - the only other time he averaged below 63% was when collecting his worst finish (T45th).

The better news is that he is on track to rank top ten for GIR for just the third time.

And the only other time he averaged below 1.70 putts per green in regulation, he won.

History with a halfway lead

Spieth has been impressive from this position in the past.

He's held or shared the lead after two rounds 11 times and gone on to win six of them.

But his first three instances were learning curves: he didn't convert one.

So, in his last eight, he's won six and, in the other two, he finished second at the 2016 Masters and lost a playoff at the 2017 Northern Trust.

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It's a gun record and yet that Masters collapse, of course, casts quite a menacing shadow.

The chasers

Daniel Berger has been one of the PGA Tour's most outstanding performers over the last 12 months. He lit the blue touch paper late in his second round to complete a 66 at Pebble Beach and race into solo second, one behind Spieth.

This is his third tournament start and he's yet to finish outside the top ten.

Sweden's Henrik Norlander is alone in third which is something of a surprise because he's played the event four times and has a best of T25th (last year).

On the other hand, he's aiming for a fourth top 25 on the trot and he was second at Torrey Pines two weeks ago which, like this week, features Pacific Ocean views, blustery wind and Poa Annua greens - a good primer.

Three players share fourth on 9-under: Patrick Cantlay and two Englishmen, Paul Casey and Tom Lewis.

Cantlay couldn't maintain his hot first round pace, labouring to a 73 after his Thursday 62.

He's never missed a cut at Pebble in five starts, but is seeking a first top eight finish.

Casey has unfinished business in the event - in 2019 he held a three shot 54-hole lead before being caught and passed by Phil Mickelson.

Lewis is seeking a first top ten (and just second top 30) in his 23rd regular PGA Tour start (he was, however, second in the WGC St Jude Invitational last July).

In his own words

"I'm in great position at the midway point," Spieth said after his round.

"It's a little bit improved off of last week, which was the goal this week, to just try and feel like I'm getting better each day.

"I haven't made a ton of long putts which is probably a really good sign that I'm keeping the ball in front of me and striking it really nicely."

Are these baby steps, he was asked, or has he made big leaps this last fortnight?

"I'm just trying to get more comfortable being towards the top of the leaderboard and feeling those nerves," he said.

"You get more comfortable the more often you're there, and these last two days I felt a lot more comfortable than I did last week, (which is) not to say that it won't be a significant challenge the next two days."

The weather

It's not unknown for this tournament to feature poor conditions and it looks like the weekend will turn nasty.

There's a 60% chance of rain early on Saturday, it could be heavy, and it will be swirling in the forecast 20mph wind.

Sunday will be dry and a little less gusty.

That coastal wind will introduce volatility.

"Pebble's going to be mean Pebble," Spieth said. "It's going to be fun to go out there.

"I like when the conditions are a little tougher because you have to go with a little more feel. The back nine tomorrow will be a different animal."

What happens next

Eight of the last 16 winners of this tournament were in the lead at halfway - a great sign for Spieth - but another four winners emerged from outside the top ten after 36 holes, a consequence of getting a good score in early on Saturday and then letting the gusting coastal wind disrupt the pre-round leaders.

That could happen again this Saturday.

Paul Casey is in search of a second win in 2021.
Paul Casey is in search of a second win in 2021.

Berger and Casey know the course well, and Cantlay is hunting a third successive top two finish in California.

Spieth is in a good place, but this is far from a done deal.

PaddyPower price Spieth 5/2, Berger 7/2, Cantlay 4/1 and Casey 13/2.

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