The Jordan Spieth love-fest, scheduled to last throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth stops on this year’s PGA Tour, got off to a belated, but roaring, start Thursday at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial.
Fans endured a three-hour weather delay before welcoming the Masters champion to Colonial’s first tee, where the 21-year-old Dallas resident tipped his cap to legions of vocal supporters near the course’s famed Wall of Champions. Alumni from his high school, Dallas Jesuit, even serenaded him with the school’s “great sensational yell” as he walked down the first fairway.
It made for a memorable moment for Spieth, who went on to add several more in his first PGA Tour appearance in Texas since winning the Masters. By the time Spieth unleashed his signature shot of Thursday’s round, a 19-foot birdie putt from the back right fringe at No. 18, he had climbed into a four-way tie for the lead on a cool, damp day at Colonial.
Spieth joined Ryo Ishikawa, a fellow afternoon starter, and two players with morning tee times, Kevin Na and 2013 Colonial champ Boo Weekley, at the top of the leader board with rounds of 6-under-par 64. Spieth got there with a bogey-free effort that included six birdie putts ranging between 9 and 25 feet.
“This is nice. I played a solid round,” Spieth said. “When I missed the green, I made solid par putts. When you see the ball go in, the hole looks a little bigger.”
Na, 31, credited an hour-plus nap on the floor of the Colonial locker room during the weather delay with helping him re-energize his body before his seven-birdie, one-bogey performance.
“A veteran move,” Na said, smiling as he recounted his makeshift bed that included towels for a mattress, pillow and blanket in one corner of the locker room. “I felt great when I woke up. I was like, ‘Oooh, I slept for over an hour.’”
Because of overnight and morning rains that added 1.3 inches of precipitation to a saturated Colonial layout, golfers played Thursday’s round with preferred lies that allowed them to lift, clean and place their balls on the fairways. Na, whose tee time shifted from 7:22 a.m. to 10:22 a.m. while he snoozed in the locker room, took full advantage of cool, breezy morning conditions that began with temperatures in the 50s.
He found 14 of 18 greens in regulation and needed only 26 putts. Na, whose lone PGA Tour triumph came in 2011, closed with three birdies in his final four holes: two tap-ins and a 9-footer at No. 9, his final hole of the day.
“We needed to play lift, clean and place. But I was surprised how good the conditions were compared to how much rain we had,” Na said. “I started off great and I felt like my iron game was an ‘A’ performance.”
Weekley, who posted a bogey-free round, needed a 15-foot putt to save par after he “chili-whomped” a tee shot that he expected to find a greenfront water hazard. Instead, it remained dry and Weekley rallied for the par that held his round together during a day of unusual weather conditions at Colonial.
“We’re not used to seeing the north wind,” Weekley said. “That made it play a little tougher.”
But most players more than compensated when granted the opportunity to play preferred lies. Among those who did not was Adam Scott, the defending champion who opened with a 72. A year ago, Scott rallied to win the title after an opening 71.
For him to repeat that performance, the Aussie must reel in a lot of notable names ahead of him on the Colonial leader board. The primary player on that list is Spieth, who squeezed in his final birdie putt in the fading twilight shortly after 8 p.m. Spieth said experiences learned in his first two Colonial visits, when he tied for seventh (2013) and tied for 14th (2014), paid dividends Thursday.
“I just feel really comfortable on this course,” Spith said. “I’ve learned a little from the last two years about not being too aggressive off the tee. With no bogeys, that was probably the reason. I just didn’t get myself in trouble.”
Now, the Masters champion has a share of the Colonial lead to try to protect for the next three days in front of family and friends in Fort Worth.
Jimmy Burch, 817-390-7760