Walker went eight years and 187 starts on the PGA Tour before his first victory, and now he can't seem to lose. He already has won twice in this new wraparound season, the Frys.com Open and Sony Open, and he has played 36 holes this week without making a bogey. That included a 69 at Spyglass Hill on Friday.
And it helps that Walker has finished in the top 10 at Pebble Beach each of the last three years.
''It's definitely not old,'' he said of this position he keeps finding himself in. ''I've been here before after 36 holes and after 54 and after 72. You do get more comfortable and you start to realize what it takes.''
Spieth had an amazing rookie season, going from no status at the start of the year to No. 7 in the FedEx Cup and a spot on the Presidents Cup team. And the 20-year-old Texan has shown no sign of stopping. Throw out that missed cut at the Sony Open, a matter of the hole failing to get in the way of his putts, and consider his start.
He led after the first and third rounds at Kapalua, where he played in the final group and finished second. He led after 36 holes at the Farmers Insurance Open and played in the final group at Torrey Pines.
Spieth had a 67 at Monterey Peninsula, following a 67 at Spyglass Hill, and now heads to Pebble Beach.
In his young career - 27 tournaments in the book since turning pro - he already has a win at the John Deere Classic and four runner-up finishes. Spieth doesn't see the four second-place finishes as failures, rather learning experiences, which shows a maturity beyond his years.
Both still have one more day before they can truly figure out where they stand.
Walker was at 9-under 135 and heads to Monterey Peninsula, the easiest of the three courses in the rotation. Spieth was at 9-under 134 and goes to Pebble Beach, which can be brutal in nasty weather. And the forecast for Saturday was not particularly pleasant.
Along with a three-club wind on the exposed sections of all three courses, steady rain began coming down sideways toward the end of the second round. There was about a 75 percent chance for more rain Saturday, and Sunday didn't appear to be much better.
More than looking ahead, Spieth was looking behind. He was happy to at least get Spyglass out of the way already, having opened with a 67 on Thursday. That didn't make the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula a picnic.
''Today was very difficult,'' Spieth said. ''We started out in the rain and wind, and we finished in rainier and windier,'' he said.
Spieth caught Walker for a share of the lead on the 187-yard ninth hole, which typically requires a 6-iron. He watched Kevin Chappell hit first with a 3-iron, and the ball rolled back down off the front of the green. Spieth doesn't carry a 3-iron.
''I went to a hybrid,'' he said. ''And I just kind of hit a little stinger cut about 20 feet away. And then it was normally a straight putt and Michael (Greller) and I, my caddie, are looking at each other saying, 'Well, we've got to play this about a foot out to the right with the wind.' And so I hit it a foot out. With about 3 feet to go, the wind just blew it right, just broke perfectly right into the hole.''
Walker's best holes were his pars, particularly the par-5 14th. His 8-iron came back down into a bunker, leaving him such an awkward lie that he had to plant his feet outside the sand. With a shallow swing, he did well to blast out 12 feet away, and he made the par putt.
''That was pretty big to keep it feeling like things were still in my favor,'' Walker said.
He made two long birdie putts, and then hit a drive of nearly 390 yards on the seventh hole - with the aid of a cart path. It left him only an 8-iron to the green, and he had an easy up-and-down for his final birdie.
Hunter Mahan had a 68 at Spyglass Hill, with half of his six birdies on the par 5s. He was at 8-under 136.
''Coming up these last few holes are tough,'' Mahan said. ''They're uphill, they got the wind, it's getting cold, raining. You just don't want to throw away shots. Because this can be a long week, and it could be mentally more grinding than anything.''
Phil Mickelson had a 73 at Pebble Beach and was five shots behind, even though he has taken 62 putts over two rounds.
''Tee to green, I'm playing very well, but I haven't putted this poorly in a year,'' he said. ''For the way I'm hitting it, it's a little disappointing because I should have a really good opportunity. And I'll have to turn it around. It's not too late, but I've got to get it turned around here.''
- Sports & Recreation
- Jordan Spieth
- Pebble Beach
- Spyglass Hill