Jordan Spieth was left scratching his already thinning hair after posting what he declared was a ‘worse score in years’ and in his very first event, the Barclays Championship, since replacing Rory McIlroy as World No. 1.
The double major winning Texan was two under par through six holes but then completed his inward nine in six over par with Spieth posting a 13th hole birdie but also six bogeys and a 12th hole double bogey on route to a four over par 74 on the Plainfield Country Club course in Edison, New Jersey
It left Spieth trailing nine shots behind fellow Masters Champion Bubba Watson who enjoyed the clubhouse lead with a five-under par 65 in the first of the four FedEx Cup Play-Off events.
“I would argue this was, after the tee shots, this is the worst round I have played in years, for hitting so few fairways,” said Spieth.
“I’ll just take it at that, that it’s just a fluke. I made some birdies, like only three, but typically I should make more than that. So it was a very off day with a little bit of rust with the wedges and combined some poor decision making and it just came out of nowhere.”
Spieth played with Watson and new PGA Champion Jason Day. And Watson was asked his reaction to Spieth’s round given the double Augusta champion got an upfront look.
Watson said: “It’s golf. I’ve played many a rounds a lot worse than that. So, I’m not going to say anything to the No. 1 player in the world, No. 1 on the FedEx Cup by a long shot. If anything, I’m still taking advice from him. But no, it’s just one of those things. It’s golf.”
Day, who was in danger of pulling out after ‘tweaking’ his back on Tuesday night, posted a two under par 70 to be tied with England’s Lee Westwood who is the clubhouse leading European.
Pádraig Harrington was led off to a random drugs test after his round of a three over par 73 that included a third hole double bogey along with two birdies and two bogeys.
Meanwhile PGA Tour Commissioner, Tim Finchem has afforded Rory McIlroy a special ‘concession’ to retain full 2015/16 Tour membership given McIlroy will not contest the minimum 15 events. McIlroy has played just nine events and while missing from this week’s Tour stop in New Jersey he will end the year looking likely to contest 12 and three less than the strict mandatory number.
His situation is different to that of Martin Kaymer who was controversially informed he will forfeit Tour membership for next season as he missed qualifying for the Play-Off Series having played only 13 events, and this despite enjoying a 10-year exemption in capturing last year’s Players Championship and US Open titles.
A Tour official explained: “Rory’s situation is different as he had planned to play his 15 tournaments before getting injured and he informed the Tour what events they would be whereas Martin indicated to the Tour he was playing 13 and hoping to make-up the 15 by competing in the FedEx Cup which he failed to do.”
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