Jordan Spieth didn’t take long to warm up on a cool Thursday morning north of Los Angeles.
In the Genesis Invitational, hosted by Tiger Woods at Riviera Country Club, he birdied his first two holes after starting on the back nine. Spieth got seven birdies to offset two bogeys and signed for a 5-under 66 when the sun burst through the clouds and the temperature reached 60 degrees.
In the early stages of the penultimate tournament of the West Coast swing, this put the three-time major champion and world No. 14 on top of the scoreboard. It wasn’t one of those nail-biting rounds. Spieth tees it up on a regular basis, there was no out-of-this-world scrambling, and there was certainly no hair-raising, edge-of-a-cliff moment like his shot on the eighth hole at Pebble Beach two weeks ago, which matched him for second.
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Instead, he played like Steady Eddie, missing only four greens in regulation, making no chip-ins or hole-outs, and making his biggest birdie putt from 20 feet. On the tenth, he hit a 7-footer.
“I caught the left lip to make that birdie putt, and last week I didn’t seem to get any of the right side of the greens breaks, so it was really great,” said Spieth, who tied for 60th in the WM Phoenix Open last week. “Put in a lot of time on the putting green the last three days, hours and hours with (coach) Cameron (McCormick) to really get comfortable stroking it.” It was good to get a break on the first couple holes, as if all of the hard effort had paid off. From there, I was able to putt rather confidently.”
I’ve been striking the ball extremely well lately, with the exception of last weekend, when I was a bit off, but for the last six months, I’ve been hitting the ball really sweetly. It’s just a matter of getting the putter to warm up.”
The Genesis has a star-studded lineup, with the top ten players in the official world rankings in attendance. And it didn’t take long for the stars to light up the leaderboard in the Hollywood area.
Scottie Scheffler, who was in the same group as Spieth, shot 66 to join him at the top of the leaderboard. Scheffler, who is ranked No. 9 on the PGA Tour and won the Phoenix Open last week, eagled the par-5 first and added four more birdies to balance a lone bogey.
Many of Scheffler’s contemporaries believe that if he wins his first championship, the floodgates will open. Scheffler has stated that he will simply continue to play his best, although there was one difference in his first PGA Tour victory: his grouping. He was placed in the A-list category and had the opportunity to play with Spieth and world No. 1 Jon Rahm.
“I definitely had a different pairing,” Scheffler said. “I finally got out of the firstoff group, so that was wonderful.” “I didn’t see much of a difference.” I guess it took me a little longer to get started. Coming off last week, I didn’t get nearly enough rest. I had an early proam yesterday and an early round today.
“However, this afternoon I’ll get some rest.”
No. 2 Collin Morikawa, No. 8 Justin Thomas, and No. 11 Cameron Smith were among a strong group of 67 players.
No. 7 and Olympic gold medallist Xander Schauffele both shot 69.
Top-10 players Viktor Hovland, Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Hideki Matsuyama, and Patrick Cantlay were among the late starters.
Spieth, who won the Valero Texas Open last year to end a nearly four-year winless streak, is aiming for his 13th PGA Tour victory. He was definitely not the player he is now early last year when he was still attempting to regain his form.
Spieth stated, “I have a lot more tools.” “I feel like I can hit any shot if it presents itself fearlessly, whereas last year I still felt a lot more scar tissue and didn’t want to play certain shots, especially when you’re in between clubs and you’ve got to hit something softly with a pinch fade or even a high draw taking some off.”
“At this point, I wouldn’t have even tried it last year.”