Jordan Spieth’s first tournament round as a 30-year-old was a vintage performance.
Spieth’s irons were dialed in, his putter was hot and he used his trademark imagination when needed, including drawing up a beauty in his mind at the par-5 16th en route to a chip-in eagle. It all added up to a stellar bogey-free 7-under 63 at TPC Southwind in Memphis on Thursday, his lowest first-round score of his season and a one-stroke lead over Tom Kim at the FedEx St. Jude Championship.
The 30-year-old Texan, who entered the kickoff of the PGA Tour’s three-tournament FedEx Cup Playoffs in 31st place, missed reaching the 16th green in two shots.
“Right of that green is normally dead,” he said.
Not for short-game wizard like Spieth. From 43 feet away from the hole, Spieth closed his stance and the face of his 60-degree wedge and one-hopped a pitch into a ridge that jumped on to the green and right into the hole for eagle to improve to 7 under for the day.
“I hit that shot three or four times to that pin on Tuesday,” he said. “I looked to see if it was right on line, and then as it was kind of moving in, it was cool…it’s a cool feeling.”
Spieth notched six top 10s, including losing a playoff at the RBC Heritage, but was winless during the regular season. On Thursday, Spieth made birdie on three of his first five holes, tacked on another at 11 and before his eagle heroics added another birdie at 15.
Heavy overnight rain delayed the start of play and forced the use of preferred lies in the opening round. Soft conditions made the course gettable and Spieth took advantage by hitting 15 of 18 greens. His putter took care of the rest.
“This is the best I’ve seen him putt in some time,” analyst Colt Knost said on Golf Channel.
Spieth noted that he had been working on his putting, which held him back at the British Open last month, early in the morning before the Dallas heat became unbearable. Spieth sank a couple of clutch par putts at Nos. 12 and 17 to keep his card clean.
“They feel better than the birdie putts,” he said. “They really do.”
Here are four more things to know from the first round of the FedEx St. Jude Championship.