Jordan Spieth finished his 1st round at the PGA at +1, 5 shots off the lead. He knows what he needs to do on Friday to stay in the game.
Jordan Spieth says he doesn’t feel any extra expectations at the PGA or any major, but he admits to feeling the pressure. He also gets frustrated when putts don’t drop.
Spieth was very clear about his mental condition at his media conference before the PGA Championship started:
"This is one of the four pivotal weeks of the year that we focus on, so there will certainly be pressure. I’m simply stating here won’t be added expectations or pressure."
He came to that conclusion after coming to terms with his loss at the 2016 Masters.
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"I’ve gone through what will probably and hopefully be the worst loss of my career in the most public eye that golf has. Everything else that could happen is much lesser and therefore, has probably helped me since then, to focus then and only see the positive that could come out of a situation."
What he does have is a positive attitude and confidence from having recently won the third leg of the career grand slam. He also had Michael Phelps walking inside the ropes.
"He had followed us quite a few rounds. He’s become a good friend and mentor,"
Spieth said after the first round. Phelps texted Spieth earlier in the week indicating he was in Charlotte for an outing. The PGA of America said this week that they are pleased to have celebrities involved in golf and accommodated the Olympian.
Whether it was Spieth’s confidence from the final round comeback in the British Open or having the most decorated Olympian ever in his corner, he was able to come back from a round that had slipped to 3-over par by righting the ship with birdies at the 8th and 9th to finish at just 1-over for the round. He’s five behind Thorbjorn Olesen.
"Given it’s the first round, I know I’m still in it, but I know that tomorrow’s round becomes that much more important to work my way and stay in it. I’ve got to make up ground. I’m five back at the start of the day. I’ve got to be less than five back after Friday."
He thought that if he had finished with three pars, he would have ruined his chances in the tournament.
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"We had a wait there, and I thought to myself, they are not giving birdies at all. You have to pull off some solid shots to make birdies on those holes. I was focused on what we had left. Michael said, ‘Let’s get three looks and see what happens.’ I had three looks and almost got back all the way to even."
The lid seemed to be on the hole today, though, and Spieth had some bunker shot faux pas.
"Some of these putts that I had for birdie are really one out of five, maybe, to make. On other greens, you are looking at 50 percent,"
he explained, adding that the pins are on slopes of two to three percent which makes putting extraordinarily difficult unless a player is below the hole.
"When I had the chances that I had and I just couldn’t get the ball to go in on the greens, that is when I get the most frustrated I can get out there. I hit some good putts that missed. I burned a lot of edges today. I didn’t make the one out of five. Instead I missed the ten out of ten from that kind of range. If I grabbed a couple of those, I would be pleased."
He even had a couple bunker shots that, uncharacteristically, didn’t go his way. His scrambling was two out of six.
"I bailed on my two bunker shots I had today, which was really frustrating. It was just the bunker play and the greens."
Spieth played in the 2017 glamour threesome which included the winners of the Masters, the U.S. Open and the British Open.
Stat-wise, Spieth was 10 for 14 fairways and 12 for 18 greens. His driving average was 298.8. He had 32 putts.
TNT begins broadcast coverage of the PGA Championship second round at 1pm ET Friday, August 11. Follow this link to get 2nd round tee times.