Spieth: 'It's just a day to forget'
Spieth shoots third-worst round of his career in opening round of Northern Trust Open
February 18, 2016
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
- Jordan Spieth reacts to a missed putt on the 14th hole during the first round of the Northern Trust Open. (Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. – When Justin Thomas went to pick up his ball on the final hole in Thursday’s first round of the Northern Trust Open, he wanted to make sure he didn’t step in the through line of playing partner Fred Couples.
He didn’t bother to check with his other partner, Jordan Spieth. “I knew I wasn’t anywhere close,” Thomas said.
Spieth knew it too – but that didn’t prevent him from a little verbal jab. “Justin, you didn’t ask me,” he joked. “You’re probably in my through line right now."
Said Thomas a few minutes later when recounting the story: “Just giving me grief as usual.”
It was good-natured banter between the two close friends – but not necessarily something you would expect at the end of a nightmarish round for the world’s top-ranked player.
Thanks to eight bogeys and one double bogey, Spieth shot an 8-over 79 at Riviera – the worst opening round and tied for the third-worst round at any point of his PGA TOUR career. It was the second-highest round recorded Thursday and left him 16 strokes off the pace set by Camilo Villegas, who shot an 8-under 63.
But the reigning FedExCup champ was not about to sulk. In fact, he felt better after Thursday’s performance than after some of his more productive scoring rounds last week at Pebble Beach.
“I shot 2-under and I was more miserable than I was today,” Spieth said. “It’s just a day to forget. … In the course of my career, I imagine it’s going to happen. Just unfortunate when it actually does.”
Spieth said he felt confident entering Thursday’s round at Riviera, a course he’s never won on as a TOUR pro but has experienced success on during his college days at the University of Texas. He said he had a “great range session” with coach Cameron McCormick. Even though it rained earlier in the day, there were no black clouds looming when Spieth teed off in the afternoon.
But his normally crisp iron play deserted him, and he couldn’t save himself with the putter. His proximity to the pin was 46 feet, 7 inches, which ranked 115th in the field Thursday. And he scrambled to save par on just 2 of 9 chances, among the worst percentage of the day.
“I just played really poorly from good positions off the tee,” said Spieth, explaining that he “overdrew it when you can’t be left and I overcut it when you can’t be right. Just bad timing.”
He still had a chance to salvage the round after a birdie at the 10th left him at 2 over. But starting with the 12th hole, he bogeyed four of the next five, then ended the day by three-putting from 8 feet, 4 inches for a double bogey.
He acknowledged that he had never played Riviera in such soft conditions. Overnight rains left the greens damp, forcing all players to adjust from the firmer pre-tournament conditions.
Some, like Villegas, made the adjustment.
“I was a little surprised with my 8 under, to be honest,” Villegas said. “This is a golf course where it’s not easy to shoot 8 under … I didn’t know Jordan shot 8, but obviously he must have lost a little bit up here and then had a bad day. Everybody has bad days in this sport.”
Spieth, among others, did not make the adjustment.
“I found it very difficult to trust the way the golf course is playing,” Spieth said. “I didn’t get off to a good start because of that. I’ve never played the golf course soft. I’ve always played where you have to kind of float it on to the front of the greens and let it bounce, and I just never trusted the adjustment.”
Spieth said he didn’t think his swings were that bad, noting that he would look up “and all of a sudden, they were further off-line. … I didn’t expect things to go poorly. I actually expected something to go in.
“But when you start getting these 5-, 6-footers on softer poa annua, that’s where I really struggle. It certainly showed today.”
Still, tomorrow’s another day, as they say, and Spieth is not giving up hope. He sees Villegas’ 63 and has hope that another low score could be produced on Friday – preferably by his own hand.
“I’m not throwing this tournament away,” Spieth said. “I believe that I can shoot 10-under par on this golf course. … I’m not packing it in by any means.”
Jordan Spieth rolls in a birdie putt at Northern Trust