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Jordan Spieth’s first round at the 147th Open Championship as a past winner got off to a promising start. Then, as so many rounds at Carnoustie tend to do, it went sideways at the end. Spieth, who won last year at Royal Birkdale, birdied two of his first four holes and was 3 under through 14. But a double bogey-bogey-par-bogey finish had him six shots off the early 5-under lead at 1 over after Round 1.
“It’s definitely different than any of the Opens I’ve played,” Spieth said on Golf Channel of the wild, baked-out conditions in Scotland. “I’ve never stood on the tee box and been more confused about what to hit. It’s also tough but fair. You can go on streaks of good golf and streaks of struggling. I had a little bit of both today. I started off really strong and just got a little wayward at the end. It was enough to be very difficult on those closing holes.”
Spieth looked locked in for most of the day. Every time I looked up it seemed as if he had a 10-footer or a 15-footer or a 20-footer for birdie. With slow green conditions, he made great runs on a lot of those putts. But a handful of shots on the wicked closing stretch left him over par and frustrated.
“It couldn’t be any easier to score on this course, and it was still that difficult,” he said on Golf Channel.
Jordan Spieth: 72 (+1) today; he has never finished in the top-10 in a major with an opening round over par.
— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGC) July 19, 2018
Spieth is trying to become the first golfer since Padraig Harrington to win two Opens in a row. He’s certainly nowhere near out of contention, but what looked like was going to be a strong push toward the top of the leaderboard on Thursday at Carnoustie turned into a feeble finish. There is a bit of hope from Spieth, however, who noted that he thinks he got the good side of the draw.
“Still in it here at The Open, you never know,” Spieth said. “You get weird conditions and can certainly make a run from any point.”
This is true, but unfortunately for Spieth the evidence running against him is not great. Of the last 20 Open winners, only four have been outside the top 15 after 18 holes. Spieth will likely be outside the top 50. The player who came from the farthest back in that period of time — Mark O’Meara in 1998 — was T62.
All in all, it was a disappointing day for somebody who’s had a disappointing last 12 months. He gets three more days to try and earn the Claret Jug back, and to prove that he can be the golfer at Carnoustie we saw over the first 14 holes and not the one who closed out the last four.