CROMWELL - Good things tend to happen when Jordan Spieth plays the Travelers Championship.
It worked well for him when he won the tournament in his debut last season and it worked well for him after his first round on Thursday at TPC River Highlands. After shooting an 8-over 78 to start last week’s U.S. Open, Spieth rebounded with a 7-under 63 to share the lead with Zach Johnson.
“First rounds have been tough for me,” Spieth said. “[I’m] trying to do a little bit too much, trying to get shots back when I drop one and trying to have to birdie easy holes. I just played toward center of greens today and let the rest take care of itself.”
It also helped that Spieth was able to limit many of the mistakes that hurt him at Shinnecock.
The world’s fifth-ranked golfer played a nearly flawless front nine that saw him make birdie twice and eagle the sixth. Spieth was nearly as effective on his final nine holes of the day, making four more birdies to just one bogey, which came on 15. Back-to-back pars send him into the second round in a good position.
“I do really enjoy playing this course,” Spieth said. “Today was perfect conditions, except a north wind. So kind of not exactly what the course is designed to be played at, so it kind of makes you think a little different on a few different holes. But certainly, good memories here and some good rounds. These are probably the purest Poa Annua greens I’ve ever been on late in the day today. They really held themselves nicely.”
But Spieth also admitted it wasn’t that important to post that low of a number after the first round. It was about making sure every part of his game - driving, the irons and his short game - was working well. He still wasn’t all that pleased with how he drove the ball, but said he was able to make it work. Spieth did like his putting however.
“I’ve been sticking to the process,” Spieth said. “I’ve been very positive about making progress from how I got pretty off earlier this year. So it’s good to see a good score. Those are obviously nice to see, but still a long way to go. It’s round one.”
Still, there wasn’t much for Spieth to complain about overall. After a rough two days to start last week, he is already enjoying being among the early contenders to play into the weekend and for the trophy.
“It’s nice to be in the thick of things,” Spieth said. “Going into the last few weeks, my game’s in a good place, scores aren’t reflecting it. As long as I don’t beat myself up over that and just stick to the process, then - it’s certainly a testing year for me, and it’s a building year - it’s one where I can actually come out stronger.”
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or firstname.lastname@example.org