Spi­eth takes one-stroke lead in his Trav­el­ers de­but

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - BY PAT EATON-ROBB

CROMWELL, CONN. | Jor­dan Spi­eth didn’t take long to fig­ure out TPC River High­lands.

Mak­ing his de­but at the Con­necti­cut course, the 23-year-old Texan had eight birdies and a bo­gey Thurs­day for a 7-un­der 63 and a on­e­stroke lead in the Trav­el­ers Cham­pi­onship.

Spi­eth birdied five of the first eight holes and took sole pos­ses­sion of the lead on the fi­nal hole, hit­ting a wedge to 4 feet for birdie on the par-4 18th.

“Be­ing 3 un­der through four it helps you walk a lit­tle eas­ier, it helps kind of the shots you are play­ing through­out the round,” Spi­eth said. “You don’t feel like you have to take as many chances and I was able to play away from pins when I was in a lit­tle bit of trou­ble.”

The two-time ma­jor cham­pion tied for 35th on Sun­day in the U.S. Open at Erin Hills.

Johnson Wag­ner and Brett Stegmaier, a Con­necti­cut na­tive who grew up about 25 miles from the course in Madi­son, were tied for sec­ond.

The 33-year-old Stegmaier said he de­cided to be­come a pro­fes­sional golfer while in the gallery at the tour­na­ment in 2000, watch­ing No­tah Be­gay sink a 25-foot birdie putt to win. It was his fourth ap­pear­ance at the Trav­el­ers and his first sub­par round.

“To be here now, it’s al­most a lit­tle sur­real,” Stegmaier said. “Just be­ing on tour, I re­al­ize it’s not the great­est thing in the world, be­cause it’s still a job. You still got to grind and there’s low points. But with the right per­spec­tive, to be here now talk­ing to you guys, it’s pretty cool.”

Stegmaier, who missed six cuts in his last seven tour­na­ments, had seven birdies in a nine-hole stretch in the mid­dle of the round and closed with a bo­gey on No. 9.

Wag­ner was first into the club­house with a 64. He chipped in from 70 feet on his open­ing hole.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Jor­dan Spi­eth had eight birdies and a bo­gey on Thurs­day to take a 7-un­der 63 for the Trav­el­ers Cham­pi­onship lead.

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