The Upshot: Rd. 1, Hyundai TOCJanuary 03, 2014
By D.J. Piehowski, PGATOUR.COM
Editor's Note: This year, PGATOUR.COM will provide a quick look at each round on TOUR with its new wrap-up feature, The Upshot. You may see a little bit of everything in this feature, from news and off-the-wall notes, to social media content and eye-candy photos and video. Check it out after each round.
KAPALUA, Hawaii -- Thanks to four birdies in his final five holes, Jordan Spieth grabbed a share of the first-round lead at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions with an opening bogey-free 66. The reigning Rookie of the Year shares the lead with Michael Thompson, Chris Kirk and Webb Simpson.
@PGATOUR Jordan Spieth: "I had new member orientation this week... I think it was more of a brief meeting than it normally is for new members."— PGA TOUR (@pgatour) January 3, 2014
If it makes you feel better, Spieth came back to earth, just not for very long. After playing the most physically demanding season of his life in 2013, the 20-year-old said his swing was a bit out of whack by the end of his remarkable Rookie-of-the-Year season.
"With that many events, your body just wants to do so many different things," he said. "You're playing in heavy winds one week and the next week you're trying to launch it out. I still don't own my swing yet."
When Spieth arrived in China for the WGC-HSBC Champions and California for Tiger Woods' World Challenge, he said he was "kind of all over the place,” recording pedestrian finishes at both. So Spieth went to work with instructor Cameron McCormick, singled out and fixed the issues (technical glitches with his grip and flattening the plane on his downswing to hit more draws).
"I have no excuses and I'm ready to play," he said before Friday's opening round.
Hitting 16-of-18 greens in Round 1, Spieth birdied four of his last five to shoot an opening 66 and grab a share of the first-round lead. In his first trip around Kapalua's Plantation Course, he was bogey free.
I wanna be Jordan Spieth when I grow up.— Kevin Bouwkamp (@kermitbeezy) January 4, 2014
SOMETIMES CHANGE IS GOOD: Jason Dufner had used the same driver for nearly three years. Notthe same model; the same exact club.
Since the face of that driver cracked at the Franklin Templeton Shootout in December, Dufner was forced to put a new driver in the bag this week. You can read all about it here.
How did the experiment work? In Round 1, Dufner hit 14-of-15 fairways (T-1 in the field) and shot a bogey-free 67 that left him one back. Granted, the fairways are wide at Kapalua, but take it as a positive sign for Dufner, who said improving his driving accuracy was a focus of his in 2014.
IT RUNS IN THE FAMILY: Patrick Reed has a new caddie. But before you start thinking that he fired the adorable young lady that carried his bag to victory at the Wyndham Championship (his wife, Justine), know that the split was for a good reason: Team Reed is expecting its first child in May.
Friday was Reed's first PGA TOUR round without Justine since she took over caddie duties at the 2012 Valero Texas Open. So who gets the call to carry the bag? Justine's brother, Kessler Karain.
"It went really smoothly," Reed said. "He had some great reads and was great with winds and club selections. There's just something about members of that family being able to give me advice, I guess."
To her credit, Justine walked all 18 holes of the extremely hilly Plantation Course, although she appears to be missing work already.
"I'll caddie as long as I can," Kessler said. "But she wants to get back on the bag." Reed guessed that Justine would be back just before the PGA Championship in August.
Chris Kirk birdied his final 5 holes today to post 66, including getting up and down from 287 after a bad drive at No. 17. #TheseGuysAreGood— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) January 4, 2014
SPEAKING OF CHILDREN: Kirk is playing his first event since winning The McGladrey Classic in October. When asked what he did during the break: “We had our second child, a little boy named Foster. That kept us pretty busy.”
Kirk isn’t the only new dad in the field. Or even on the leaderboard. Kevin Streelman is one back after an opening-round 67, with his wife and 6-day-old daughter watching at home.
“We spent a week in the NICU, and holding your child there, attached to the breathing monitor and oxygen monitor; to see what parents go through gives you a new perspective on how to view not only my profession and this game, but life in general.”
PREDICTABLE PAIRING: Earlier this week Adam Scott was voted the winner of our first-ever Pair the Pros promotion, meaning fans wanted to see him paired with defending champ Dustin Johnson. Adam Scott has a career scoring average of 70.1 when playing with DJ. His score in Round 1? 70.
SATURDAY'S GAMEPLAN: Tee times start at 7:30 a.m. local time; Players are re-paired according to score; Golf Channel has TV coverage from 2:30 to 7 p.m. ET; SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio has coverage from 2 to 7 p.m. ET.
PHOTO GALLERY: Click photo below to open images