Friday 19 October 2018

Spieth turns things around despite putting struggles

Jordan Spieth. Photo: USA Today Sports
Jordan Spieth. Photo: USA Today Sports

Brian Keogh

Jordan Spieth remains frustrated with his putting despite surging through the field with a five-under 66 at the AT&T Byron Nelson in Dallas.

The Texan (24) began the day on the cut line after a 69 and looked to be heading out of the tournament at the links-style Trinity Forest Golf Club when he missed a 15-inch putt for par at his sixth hole of the day.

But while he birdied the next and then rattled in six birdies in eight holes on the back nine, he three-putted his final hole from 12 feet, lipping out from inside three feet for par.

"I was putting myself in positions that I should put myself in and started rolling," said Spieth, who finished the day eight shots behind early leader Marc Leishman on seven-under par.

"I putted a lot better today as far as the way it looked and it was really frustrating - kind of laziness - to miss a tap-in and on the last hole.

"I just pulled it and so obviously really frustrated, I missed two putts, one inside a foot, one inside of three feet with all the progress I made in my putting."

Leishman followed his opening 61 with a 66 to lead by one shot on 15-under par from Aaron Wise Gay, who fired a nine-under 63.

Graeme McDowell and Pádraig Harrington were sitting just inside the cut line at three-under par with Seamus Power a shot better off after 12 holes as he went out late in the day.

Playing alongside Texans Spieth and Jimmy Walker in his 200th PGA Tour start, McDowell opened with three straight bogeys and did well to post a one-over 72 that left him just inside the projected cut mark alongside Harrington, who made four birdies, two bogeys and a double bogey in a 70.

On the Challenge Tour, four of Ireland's eight-strong challenge made the top 64 who qualified for the weekend matchplay action in the Andalucía Costa del Sol Match Play 9 in Spain.

Derry's Ruaidhri McGee (69) tied for third on seven-under, two shots behind Stuart Manley and Hugo Leon with Michael Hoey (68) tied ninth on five-under, Cormac Sharvin (70) 23rd on three-under and Dermot McElroy (73) tied 44th on one-under par.

Whitehead's John Ross Galbraith shot 68 to finish on level-par but bogeyed the first extra hole to lose out in a six-way play-off for the last four spots while Gavin Moynihan finished three shots further back after a 72 for his 11th missed cut in a row since last December.

West Waterford's Gary Hurley withdrew before the start citing a back injury he picked up in Portugal last Sunday.

In the Belgian Knockout, Spain's Jorge Campillo shot a second successive 67 to top the 64 qualifiers on eight-under as 11 players were forced to play off for the last eight spots after they tied on one-over par.

Meanwhile, Holywood teenager Tom McKibbin (15) will make his European Tour debut after accepting an invitation to compete in the new Shot Clock Masters tournament at Diamond Country Club in Austria from June 7-10.

Winner of the Junior Honda Classic (U-18) and The Faldo Major Champions Invitational in recent months, the Irish U-16 international from Newtownabbey made his European Challenge Tour debut in 2016, aged just 13.

Now playing off scratch, he won last year's Munster U-16 Boys and the Ulster U-16 Close and Open titles.

He said: "I'm in favour of fast play and I consider myself to be a fast player so I think the idea behind the Shot Clock Masters could be great for the future of golf.

Byron Nelson

Sky Sports 6.0

Irish Independent

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