Thursday, March 31, 2016

Spieth three back of Hoffman after solid Houston start

Going into this week's Shell Houston Open, Jordan Spieth said one of his goals for this Masters precursor was to find some consistency. He found some on Thursday in the tournament where he finished a playoff loser last year, shooting an opening 5-under 67 to trail first-round leader Charley Hoffman by three shots.

“Solid round. Feel like I said yesterday in the press room, that my game is there. It’s very close,” Spieth said.

Spieth spent the first two days of the week working with instructor Cam McCormick, looking to fine-tune his mechanics just days after ascribing his Round of 16 loss to Louis Oosthuizen at the WGC-Dell Match Play to losing his swing. He looked more like the Spieth of 2015 on Thursday, making six birdies and a bogey, feeling more comfortable with his game tee to green.

“I drove the ball fantastic today. Really comfortable with my iron shots,” he said. “I had very, very good control of my golf game and my short game was there today as well.”

The 22-year-old reigning Masters champion was not especially efficient on the par 5s at the Golf Club of Houston, playing them in 2 under par. It's perhaps another manifestation of the fall off in Spieth's par-5 scoring in 2016 compared to last year. He was tied for 19th in par-5 scoring in 2015. So far in 2016, he's tied for 59th.

"Really wished I could have gotten a little more out of the par 5s and I made the sloppy bogey with a lob wedge in my hand," Spieth said. "That kind of stuff we can improve on this week."

It will be important for Spieth, who has finished T-2 and won in his only two professional Masters starts, to figure out the par 5s. With four at Augusta National, including two eagle opportunities on the second nine par 5s, Spieth will need to have the confidence to make hay against par and the field on those holes next week.

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

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