FORT WORTH, Texas – A few observations from Thursday’s first round of the DEAN & DELUCA Invitational, with Bryce Molder the leader after a 6-under 64 at Colonial. World No. 2 Jordan Spieth opened with a 67.
For more on Round 1, click here to read the Daily Wrap-up.
1. SOLID SPIETH. Jordan Spieth missed his first five fairways, which usually spells doom at Colonial’s tight layout. He not only survived but thrived, going 2 under on those holes en route to a 3-under 67.
Spieth said it was a better round than the 64 he shot in the opening round last week at his home event, the AT&T Byron Nelson, when he was fighting swing issues and had to lean on his putter.
“First few holes, it’s hard to find these fairways,” said Spieth, who found 6 of 14 overall on Thursday. “But I felt like the swing was still there. I was still striking it nicely. I was hitting good approach shots.
“I wasn’t very concerned with the missed fairways. I knew they’d come eventually.”
About the only negative was his second shot of the round, when he found the fairway bunker at the par-5 first. Spieth made up for the poor shot by rolling in a 21-footer for birdie.
“I didn’t play a smart shot at all,” Spieth said. “It was just a bonehead move on the second shot, which I don’t really know what we were thinking because I took a club that can reach both fairway bunkers instead of just punching it up and hitting a wedge.
“But a good putt sometimes makes up for a couple of misses.”
Spieth knows that missing fairways will eventually catch up to him if the trend continues. In his attempt to produce “boring” golf and maneuver into contention on Sunday afternoon, he’ll need to find a few more the rest of the week.
Molder finishes with four birdies, Texas boys doing it big
2. BACK AND LOOKING GOOD. Webb Simpson hasn’t played at Colonial since 2010 when he missed the cut for the second consecutive time. He usually takes two weeks off after THE PLAYERS Championship so that he can recharge at the mid-point of the season.
But having already played a limited schedule in February and March, and then pulling out of THE PLAYERS this year as wife Dowd delivered their fourth child, Simpson put the DEAN & DELUCA back on his schedule in hope of re-igniting his game.
Result: a 5-under 65 that was the best round in the afternoon wave, perhaps even the best round of the day given the breezes that picked up late in the day.
“A fantastic round of golf,” said Jordan Spieth, another late starter on Thursday. “The way he played was better than the way anybody else played today.”
Simpson was certainly glad to record a round in the 60s, as he breaks a string of 17 consecutive rounds on TOUR in the 70s.
“I need to play,” said Simpson, who made more than 96 feet of putts with his new putter. “I need to get in a rhythm. I was hurting February and March, so I figured I’d try to start playing a lot more and see if I can get back in a good rhythm.”
3. EARLY WAKE-UP CALL. When Bryce Molder teed off in the first group off No. 10 on Thursday, it was 7 a.m. and extremely dark, thanks to threatening clouds that would eventually force a 91-minute weather delay.
“It wasn’t dark to where you can’t see the ball flight,” Molder said, “but you’re kind of reading putts looking a little funny at it. It was dark; it was weird. It was almost like late, late, late in the day.”
Molder was riding a par train when play was suspended while he was on the 16th green (his seventh hole). But once he returned and made the turn, he flipped the switch. He birdied the par-5 first and par-4 second; parred his way around the Horrible Horseshoe; then carded four straight birdies to finish his round, playing the front nine at Colonial in 29, one off the course record.
The winds at Colonial – usually its primary defense – had died while Molder made his big run. And he does know how to go low on this course; he shot a 62 in his first start here in 2010, and also a 64 two years later.
“If you would have said, ‘I’m going to turn and shoot 29 on the back,’ I’d have been like, ‘Are you sure you’re talking to the right person?’” Molder said. “But that’s the way it happened. It all of a sudden comes together at the right time.”
Round 1 highlights from DEAN & DELUCA Invitational
CALL OF THE DAY
Bryce Molder closes Round 1 with four straight birdies.Free play-by-play coverage of the second round streams from 1-7 p.m. ET Friday on PGATOUR.COM
4. TEXANS RISING. Patrick Reed was born in San Antonio, played most of his amateur golf in the state, and now lives outside Houston. He already has two top-10s in the state this year – a second at the Valero Texas Open and a T10 at the Shell Houston Open.
He didn’t play in Dallas last week, but he’s at Colonial this week and made a strong early statement with a 5-under 65, one shot off the pace.
“I’ve seen a lot of these courses and kind of know what to expect when I’m playing in Texas,” Reed said. “It’s nice to be in your home state playing some golf.”
Meanwhile, Colonial member Ryan Palmer, the Amarillo native who attended school at Texas A&M, opened with a 66 in his “fifth” major.
“It’s a golf course (where) I can step onto each tee and don’t even need my yardage book,” he said. “It was a solid day.”
Fellow Aggie Martin Piller, a Dallas native, also shot 66. Lubbock native Sean O’Hair and Andrews native Chad Campbell shot 67. Oh, and that Spieth guy also shot 67.
QUOTE OF THE DAYIt’s all about navigation. You don’t have to go bombs-away on every tee.
5. TOUGH WAY TO FINISH. Jason Kokrak played beautifully for 17 holes. Make that 17-1/2 holes. He was at 6 under for his round, tied for the lead, and safely in the fairway at the par-4 18th, 169 yards from the pin.
Then disaster struck.
His approach rolled into Crampton’s Lake guarding the left side. He took his penalty shot and dropped, his next shot 31 feet away. His chip rolled back toward his feet – and into the water again. Another penalty, another drop – and another missed shot, although this time it stayed dry.
By the time he was finished, Kokrak had posted a quintuple-bogey 9.
SHOT OF THE DAY
Kevin Chappell slam dunks it for eagle at DEAN & DELUCA