Jordan Spieth admitted it had been a near-perfect day after the world number three fired an ominous 65 in the first round of the British Open on Thursday to plant himself firmly in contention.
The Texan had five birdies, including on back-to-back holes just prior to the turn, and not a single dropped shot on the Southport links to sit level with US Open champion Brooks Koepka on five under par atop the leaderboard midway through the day.
It would have been better but for a missed birdie putt at the 18th, but Spieth was not complaining after ending a run that had seen him fail to break par in his last five opening rounds at a major.
“I couldn’t have done much better today. I missed two greens,” said the 23-year-old, who won the Masters and US Open in 2015.
“This course has a lot of crosswinds, so it’s tough to judge how far the ball is going to fly depending on what shot you play. So that speaks a lot to the ball-striking of the day.”
Given his pedigree, it was noteworthy that Spieth rated the round as “maybe fifth or sixth” of all his major championship efforts.
“Everything was strong. I thought I’d give it a nine across the board for everything — tee balls, ball-striking, short game and putting. So things are in check. It’s just about keeping it consistent.”
He also admitted it set him up nicely for Friday, when conditions are expected to deteriorate considerably with Spieth — who is playing with reigning champion Henrik Stenson — not starting his round until mid-afternoon.
“I thought today’s round was extremely important, as they all are, but given the forecast coming in, I thought you really needed to be in the red today,” added Spieth, who effectively saw his hopes go up in smoke in the second round last year at Troon.
Then, after starting with a level-par 71, he went four-over in miserable conditions and was unable to fully recover despite just making the cut.
“I’ve been on good ends of the draw, bad ends of the draw. So I kind of understand, especially going into a day like tomorrow.
“Last year’s Friday round was…I remember talking in here about the sheets of rain. It was like a sideways water faucet out there.
“And I’m expecting something like that tomorrow. It can’t be much worse than what we had in the second round last year or it would be unplayable. And so I’m kind of prepared for the worst, having experienced it before.”
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