Jordan Spieth has some work to do to make his homecoming triumphant, yet the Dallas native remained in striking distance at the HP Byron Nelson Championship despite a double bogey that left a stain.
Spieth, the former Dallas Jesuit golfer who at age 20 has positioned himself among the world’s top golfers, scrambled to shoot a wind-blown even-par 70 in Thursday’s first round at the TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas and sat five shots back of leader Peter Hanson.
“I kept myself in it, I think,” said Spieth, fresh off a fourth-place finish at The Players Championship last week. “It was a difficult day. The pin [locations] were extremely difficult for a Thursday. With the way the wind was playing it’s tough to get at a lot of them.
Spieth’s driver failed him on a day when the morning’s softer conditions seemed to foreshadow low scores. He hit only four of 14 fairways and 10 of 18 greens in regulation.
Birdies on two of his last three holes, Nos. 7-9, made up for a double bogey 6 on the 528-yard par-4 No. 3.
His tee shot found water that guards the right side of the fairway on No. 3. After his drop, Spieth needed two more irons to the green. His 23-footer for bogey was fell just shy of a foot from the hole.
“I really feel like I played solid golf,” Spieth said.
If he finds the fairway on No. 3, “maybe I post a 2 under, which would be right in it.”
No. 3 played the most difficult in the first round.
Only seven players recorded birdie. The hole swallowed up 65 bogeys or worse.
Among those also stymied there was former Fort Worth Paschal golfer John Peterson, whose back-9 had as many variables as a day in the life of Charlie Sheen.
Peterson, who played in college at LSU, climbed to 3 under with a long birdie putt on No. 2 — his 11th hole in the round after starting at 10 — but followed with a three-putt bogey on No. 3 from 45 feet, a double-bogey 5 on No. 5 (his tee shot fell short and he needed two chips to get up) and closed with a bogey on No. 9.
He turned in a scorecard of 3-over par on the back and 1 over for the tournament, six strokes back.
“Finished terrible,” said Peterson, clearly annoyed at the round that got away. “That’s the worst number I could have shot.”
Peterson has made six cuts in 17 events this season and two top 25s for a total of almost $168,000 in earnings.
Feeling at home
Nobody from Amarillo is afraid of a little wind.
In the face of steady gusts Thursday morning, Ryan Palmer fired a 3-under 67.
Palmer, now a Colleyville resident, was tied for fifth in his 11th consecutive start at the Nelson.
“It swirls enough to keep you thinking out there, for sure” said Palmer, who has four top 10s in 12 starts in 2014 while seeking his first victory since 2010. He lost a playoff to Keegan Bradley for the 2011 Nelson championship.
Palmer likes it here: His round Thursday marked his fourth consecutive sub-70 first round, including 65 in 2011 and 2013 and 64 in 2012.
Amateur Scottie Scheffler, a three-time Class 4A state champion from Highland Park, made his PGA debut, shooting a 1-over 71.
The No. 1 junior golfer in the country began his round at No. 10 with four straight pars before derailed with a double bogey at 14 (drive out of bounds), a bogey at 16 and another at No. 1. He rallied with three straight birdies at Nos. 5-7.
“Made some dumb mistakes, but I finished good,” Scheffler said.