A lack of course knowledge proved to be no problem for Jordan Spieth at the Travelers Championship. Here’s how things look after the opening round at TPC River Highlands, where Spieth birdied his final hole to take a one-shot lead in his tournament debut:
Leaderboard: Jordan Spieth (-7), Brett Stegmaier (-6), Johnson Wagner (-6), Graham DeLaet (-5), Troy Merritt (-5), Padraig Harrington (-4), Xander Schauffele (-4)
What it means: Spieth was one of several big names who added this event to his schedule this year, and after struggling on the greens last week at Erin Hills he had it all clicking Thursday in Cromwell. Spieth’s score was by far the low round of the afternoon wave, it equaled his low round of the year and gave him an early lead as he looks to win for the second time this year.
Round of the day: Spieth birdied five of his first eight holes and made eight birdies in total, matching the lowest opening-round score of his PGA Tour career. Spieth built on the momentum from his final-round 69 at Erin Hills with a number of accurate approach shots, hitting 15 of 18 greens while matching the record for low score by a player in his TPC River Highlands debut.
Best of the rest: Stegmaier had missed 12 of his last 15 cuts, but he helped set the early mark with a 6-under 64 in the morning wave. Stegmaier started on the back nine and rolled in seven birdies over his first 12 holes, including five in a six-hole stretch from Nos. 13-18 before dropping his only shot of the day on No. 9.
Biggest disappointment: Justin Thomas set a U.S. Open scoring record last week, but he’s unlikely to contend again after opening with a 3-over 73 at TPC River Highlands. Thomas made only one birdie and stumbled to three straight bogeys on Nos. 16-18 while carding a score that was 10 shots higher than his record-setting score in the third round at Erin Hills.
Main storyline heading into Friday: While big names like Rory McIlroy (67) remain on the fringe of contention, the player to watch is Spieth as he looks to follow up his low opener. The putter has seemed to hold him back in recent weeks, but if the birdie attempts are dropping as they were during his opening round, this could turn into a week of Spieth against the field.
Shot of the day: Spieth already had a share of the lead when he flagged a wedge from 136 yards on No. 18, spinning the ball to within 5 feet that led to an easy birdie and gave him sole possession of the overnight lead.
Quote of the day: “We played the practice round and the pro-am and really thought this was a good track for us. Sometimes you just fall into that.” – Spieth