Thursday, March 10, 2016

Jordan Spieth struggles in Valspar opener, shoots 76

In this case, two out of three is bad.

For the second time in his last three PGA Tour starts, Jordan Spieth is well off the pace after shooting 5-over 76 to open his first of five title defenses this year at the Valspar Championship. 

Spieth made just one birdie on the day, on the 12th hole, his third of the day. However, that birdie was sandwiched by four bogeys, including two to start the round. After a bogey on the par-4 16th, the first of the three-hole Snake Pit at Innisbrook Resort's Copperhead Course, Spieth turned in 4 over par.

The world No. 1 was unable to rally on his back nine, making eight pars and a bogey to finish off the 76. On a day in which the scoring average was a little over 73, Spieth was three off the middle of the field. He's tied for 118th place, nine back of the lead.

Although Spieth didn't use the blustery conditions as an excuse, they influenced the morning wave significantly. 

"I just didn't hit enough greens," Spieth said. "I had the opportunities on a few holes today and actually there was a lot of holes where I thought if I hit great shots posing and it's 10, 15 yards off on the distance based on the gust of the wind. It was a very tough day."

Spieth thought the score didn't entirely reflect how he played.

"Typically, my history (on days without his best), I'm able to hold that around even par and I'm just shooting too high a number," Spieth said. "Didn't quite squeak out even today, even though it was an even kind of round, and hopefully less wind tomorrow and I can work hard to play on the weekend."

Spieth finds himself in a similar position heading into Friday's second round as he did three weeks ago at the Northern Trust Open, when he opened with a career-worst first-round 79 at Riviera. He found himself just ahead of one player in the field. In the next round, Spieth shot 68 but came up five shots short of making the cut.

Not that Spieth wants to make rough starts a pattern, but he'll have several more opportunities to get off on the right footing before his first major title defense at the Masters.

"What good is kicking the door other than hurting my foot and (having to) withdraw?," Spieth said, taking the round in stride. "I'm kidding. No, I'll be fine."


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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