Golf

Jordan Spieth off to slow start at Nelson; other North Texans shine

Jordan Spieth made a weekend charge at the Colonial last week, falling a shot shy of the eventual winning score. He hoped to carry that momentum into his true hometown tournament, the AT&T Byron Nelson.

Spieth had a relatively uneventful opening round Thursday, carding two birdies and a bogey for a 1-under 69. For now, he’s lurking in the background behind a Texan-filled leader board.

“Really a stress-free round,” Spieth said. “I just didn’t capitalize on enough opportunities. You can’t make two birdies out here and expect to do anything with it.”

But two Dallas-Fort Worth residents who didn’t make the weekend cut at Colonial showed that a couple of days off isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Flower Mound resident Steven Bowditch posted the low round, an 8-under 62, and Colleyville’s Ryan Palmer turned in a 5-under 65.

Baylor product and San Antonio resident Jimmy Walker sits in second with a 6-under 64, and James Hahn is tied with Palmer at 5 under. Three more are at 4 under, including 2011 champion Keegan Bradley.

Bowditch, a 31-year-old native of Australia, had last weekend off after being disqualified at Colonial for signing the wrong Friday score, although he wouldn’t have made the cut anyway. He rebounded nicely, though, with an eight-birdie, bogey-free round.

“I already forgot about [the Colonial],” Bowditch said, smiling. “It’s golf, man. I don’t know what my career stats are. I’m probably about 35 or 40 percent making cuts, so 60 percent of the time I’m used to it, missing them.”

Bowditch isn’t too far off on his estimate. He’s made 60 cuts in 145 PGA Tour starts, roughly 41 percent. But this is only the second time in his career he’s posted a 62, matching his career-best from the fourth round of the 2011 Sanderson Farms Championship.

Bowditch had his putter rolling Thursday, burying three putts of at least 24 feet for birdie on Nos. 1, 4 and 9, and also draining an 18-footer on No. 14.

“Probably my best putting [round] in the way of longer putts made,” Bowditch said. “I typically don’t make a lot of longer putts. … But the greens are really good for how much rain they’ve had here. You can make some putts out there.”

Palmer had similar success on the greens in his seven-birdie, two-bogey day. He’s pleased with how his round went, putting himself in position to golf on the weekend rather than spending another weekend of video games and bowling with the family.

Palmer admitted it took a few days to get over his forgettable Colonial performance, particularly a 3-over 73 second round that pushed him above the cut line. Nothing gets the confidence back more than a handful of birdies.

“This helped me get over last week,” said Palmer, a Texas A&M product who headed to Rangers Ballpark after his round to toss out a first pitch as part of the Rangers’ college night promotion.

“Plus, I wanted to kind of shut up all the fantasy golf fans that wore me out on Twitter. Hopefully, I calmed them down a little bit.”

The course conditions weren’t ideal on Day One after the seemingly endless showers that have rocked the Metroplex. Heck, the ground at the TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas is so saturated that the fairways haven’t been mowed since a week ago Wednesday and might not be throughout the tournament.

Therefore, like last week in Fort Worth, the PGA Tour is allowing players to lift, clean and place through the green. That essentially offsets the conditions and gives players better chances to post low numbers.

Palmer and Bowditch took full advantage, as did others such as Walker, Hahn and Bradley.

“The tournament and ground crews have done an unbelievable job getting it to where it is,” Bradley said. “Having the ball in hand makes it playable. I would have taken [4-under 66] for sure to start the day.”

Spieth expressed a similar mindset, saying he only made one real mistake on the golf course when he took bogey on No. 14. Other than that, Spieth gave himself opportunities, but just didn’t convert, such as missing a 9-footer for birdie on No. 18.

Either way, Spieth feels good about his chances and believes an earlier tee time Friday might lead to a lower second-round number.

“The greens will be fresh,” Spieth said. “A little quicker tomorrow and more pure. Just get out there and try and make a couple birdies at the beginning, see if we can’t get more to go in.”

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @drewdavison

Leader board

-8 Steven Bowditch

62

-6 Jimmy Walker

64

-5 James Hahn

65

-5 Ryan Palmer

65

Notable

-4 Keegan Bradley

66

-3 Martin Flores

67

-2 Hunter Mahan

68

-1 Jordan Spieth

69

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