Jordan Spieth opens with even-par 72 at the Players Championship

ByBob Harig ESPN logo
Thursday, May 12, 2016

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Looking to rebound from his Masters disappointment, Jordan Spieth couldn't quite put his troubles behind him Thursday during the opening round of the Players Championship, shooting an even-par 72 that included a double-bogey on his final hole.

Spieth, who is playing for the first time since he let a five-shot lead slip away on the back nine at Augusta National last month, made five birdies at TPC Sawgrass but played his final five holes in 3 over par and settled for a score nine strokes back of tournament leader Jason Day, who shot 63.

"I really only had two bad swings today,'' Spieth said. "I'm hitting the ball great, which is what I've really been working on the past couple weeks, trying to get more consistent and better ball-striking, better control of it.

"I feel as comfortable over the ball and driving it the best I've driven it the whole year, hitting it great, just distance control and then my speed control with the putter, which are things that sometimes take a round or two to get back.''

Spieth, ranked second in the world made it clear on Wednesday before the tournament he has put the Masters behind him, that the quadruple-bogey 7 on the par-3 12th during the final round was one bad hole with bad timing for a missed shot to the right.

He went from five ahead on the 10th tee to 3 behind after the problems at the 12th and ended up tying for second, three strokes behind Danny Willett.

"It's behind me,'' Spieth said Wednesday. "I'm ready to move on and work back into contention.''

That will take a good bit of extra work now. Scoring conditions were benign Thursday, and by early in the round there were already more scores of 65 or better than any opening round in tournament history.

Spieth started on the back nine and parred his first six holes before a birdie at the par-5 16th. He bogeyed the 17th with a three-putt, then made three straight birdies starting at the second, followed by two bogeys and another birdie.

At that point, he was 2 under par and in decent shape with the par-5 ninth, a birdie hole, waiting.

And after a 300-yard drive and a second shot that ended up in the back bunker, Spieth seemed in a good shape to make a birdie. His bunker shot didn't make it to the green, however, and then his fourth shot from rough on a bank barely got to the fringe. From there, he putted to 4 feet and missed, settling for a double-bogey.

Asked to explain what happened on the last hole, Spieth said, "I hit it seven times. Yeah, just -- I hit two fantastic shots, and then not really sure after that."