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SAN ANTONIO — The good news for those hoping to catch the suddenly dangerous Jordan Spieth at this week’s Valero Texas Open is the betting favorite closed his opening round on Thursday with a bogey, wrapping the day with an impressive but not necessarily dominant 67.
But there’s bad news for the rest of the field at TPC San Antonio, as well — Spieth insisted he simply couldn’t make good contact most of the day, yet he still posted the best number of the early players taking on the Oaks Course.
In fact, after needing a provisional on No. 9 — his final hole of the day — he turned to longtime caddie Michael Greller in disbelief.
“I was telling him, ‘man, I just can’t find the center of the face right now.’ I hit that one as much off the heel as the one before,” Spieth said. “It was just kind of an off-day on contact.”
Spieth didn’t need his best to jump out to the early lead, posting three birdies on his first five holes of the day. And while the former Texas Longhorn wasn’t thrilled with his performance on Thursday, he feels like things are round into form at just the right time — with the Masters fast approaching on the schedule.
And while the ball might not have felt right coming off the club on Thursday, Spieth is fine with the results.
“I certainly would have signed up for 5 under starting out. I felt like I played some really nice golf on our front nine, the back nine. Then just kind of got a little loose off the tee on the front nine, our second nine, and was able to kind of make due. I hit some decent drives, ended up in iffy spots,” he said. “Overall, I just chipped and putted really well, which was the difference-maker today. I didn’t quite hit it as good as I have been, but certainly the short game came through. Just kind of put a little more emphasis on that this week, so kind of a little balancing act right now trying to get enough work in on all facets of the game.”
Spieth, who won the Masters back in 2015, still doesn’t have a Tour victory in nearly five years, but he keeps inching closer with each outing. But Thursdays haven’t presented a problem in 2021: Spieth has fired a 70 or better in the opening round of every tournament he’s played this calendar year. He hit just six of 14 fairways and nine of 18 greens, but needed just 23 putts on the day, including a 21-footer on No. 12.
So a little work might put him on track to snap that drought. Fellow Texas alum Scottie Scheffler — who reached the finals of last week’s WGC Dell Technologies Match Play — was right behind Spieth with a 68 as was Tom Hoge after the early group finished.
But Spieth is playing a numbers game at this point, putting himself in positions to succeed. And speaking of numbers, he knows he’s just a fraction off from where he needs to be.
“I’ve got all afternoon to figure that out on the range. I had really bad contact today. Normally, even if I don’t necessarily strike the ball well, normally I’m hitting it close to the middle of the face,” Spieth said. “The rest of the swing, I mean, I feel like I’m swinging the same and out in front of it and putting a good move on it. I just, when you’re off by five, six millimeters off of contact on either side, it will affect that ball flight and get you thinking a little more.”