2017-08-10 18:15:02
Jordan Spieth Struggles in the First Round of the P.G.A. Championship

18:15, August 10 182 0

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Jordan Spieth made a slow start in his quest to complete the career grand slam, though two late birdies salvaged a one-over-par 72 at the P.G.A. Championship on Thursday.

Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark has the clubhouse lead at four under par in the first round at Quail Hollow Club. The United States Open champion Brooks Koepka, Gary Woodland, Grayson Murray and Chris Stroud are one shot back.

Spieth struggled with his putting for most of his round on a calm, sunny morning.

The best putter on tour for much of his short career until this year, Spieth was a picture of frustration on the firm and superfast greens, often walking after his ball as soon as it had left the putter-face.

Followed by a huge gallery that included the swimming champion Michael Phelps, Spieth was outdriven on almost every hole by Koepka and Sergio García, who played in the traditional grouping of the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open champions.

After back-to-back bogeys at the par-4 fifth and par-3 sixth (his 14th and 15th holes), where he three-putted, Spieth bounced back with consecutive birdies at the par-5 seventh and par-4 eighth, two of the easier holes on the course.

“It was really just on the greens,” Spieth said of his problems. “My speed control was just a little off and I burnt a lot of edges. I got it back to at least have a chance going forward.”

He added: “Once I get one in the hole it starts to look a bit bigger. It just took too long today.”

While Spieth, 24, is seeking to become the youngest player to polish off the grand slam of all four modern majors, Koepka is looking to add to his U.S. Open victory.

Like Spieth, he birdied the seventh and eighth holes to cap off a powerful display for a 68 on a course that was getting harder by the minute as the greens dried out under a baking sun.

Some of the pretournament favorites started well, with Dustin Johnson, Hideki Matsuyama and Jason Day all at one-under 70.

Rory McIlroy, a two-time winner at Quail Hollow, and the defending champion Jimmy Walker were among the late starters.