Buddy Phelps no help as Spieth struggles
CHARLOTTE: Not even the inspiration of being watched by pal Michael Phelps, the Olympic swim legend with a record 23 gold medals, could help Jordan Spieth solve his putting woes Thursday at the PGA Championship.
World number two Spieth, seeking a career Grand Slam at age 24 after winning the British Open last month, struggled to a one-over 72 in the opening round at Quail Hollow, five shots behind co-leaders Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark and Kevin Kisner of the United States.
Jordan needed 32 putts to navigate the faster-than-expected greens, which proved formidable despite absorbing an inch of rain at the start of the week.
“I can’t putt any worse than I did today,” Spieth said.
“If you told me I was going to hit my driver the way I did today, I would have definitely thought I shot a few under par, which was an awesome score. The score won’t be any higher than it was today if I’m driving the ball like today.”
The disappointing score came as Phelps, who set a single Olympics record with eight gold medals at Beijing in 2008, walked the course watching Spieth launch his bid to become only the sixth man to win all four major titles in his career, and be the youngest to do it.
“It was great,” Spieth said. “He has become a good friend and mentor. It’s pretty awesome to have a mentor like that. He texted earlier in the week. I think he was here for an outing and said he was going out to be out following today.
“We’ve had dinner, talked through a lot of things that I will probably just keep to myself. A lot of mental approach and preparation stuff.”
Such things are just what Spieth will need if he is to lift the Wanamaker Trophy on Sunday and join Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Gene Sarazen, Gary Player and Ben Hogan on the career Slam list.
Spieth began on the back nine and made the turn at level par but had three bogeys in the first six holes on the front, missing 10foot par putts in each case.
A three-footer for birdie at the par-5 seventh and a tap-in birdie at eight lifted some of the gloom.
The late rally gave Spieth hope his victory dream can still happen, but he knows it puts more pressure upon Friday’s round.
“I’m still in it but I know tomorrow’s round becomes that much more important to work my way and stay in it,” Spieth said. AFP