Wednesday 16 October 2019

Stress-free Spieth regains his touch and gathers more momentum ahead of US Open

Jordan Spieth. Photo: Getty
Jordan Spieth. Photo: Getty

Brian Keogh

Jordan Spieth has rediscovered his magical putting touch with just three weeks to go before the US Open at Pebble Beach.

After clinching his best finish for 13 months when he tied for third behind Brooks Koepka at Bethpage last week, the three-time Major winner appeared to have lost none of that momentum when he rolled home 153-feet of putts in an opening 65 in the Charles Schwab Challenge at a blustery Colonial Country Club.

He was lurking just one stroke behind early leader Tony Finau on five-under par, tied for second with Canadian Roger Sloan as Seamus Power made just one putt outside eight feet in even windier afternoon conditions, reeling off 16 successive pars before finishing bogey-par for one-over 71.

"I know that my game has been progressing and I've been saying that for the last six weeks or so," said Spieth who made eight birdies, one bogey and a double-bogey six at his ninth hole for his 65 as Finau dropped just one shot in a 64.

"I have been a little better off the tee and into the greens and a lot better on and around the greens so ultimately I just stay the course, try not to stress about results and let them come to me."

The Texan (25), who's had one win and two runner-up finishes in the event, holed everything inside 10 feet as well as two 15-footers, a 30-footer and a 46-foot bomb in a 22-putt round that saw him gain 5.5 strokes on the field with the blade. The key to his putting, he said, was confidence in his green-reading and good tempo.

"I made a couple early, so the hole starts to look a little bigger, and you start to trust your reads fully," he said. "From there, it is just the tempo of the stroke, feeling the weight of the putter head and finding the right speed control on those long putts."

It was also a good day for Paul Dunne and Michael Hoey in the European Tour's Made in Denmark at a blustery Himmerland, where players walk through a hospitality tent to the 14th tee. They opened with three-under 68s to lie joint 12th, just two strokes behind Italy's Edoardo Molinari, Spain's Alejandro Cañizares and English trio Tom Murray, Matthew Southgate and Paul Waring at one of Europe's most innovative events

The leaders shot five-under 66s to lead by a shot from a six-strong group featuring world number 25 Matt Wallace but Gavin Moynihan was joint 123rd after he went out in 32 but struggled home in 42 en route to a 74.

In the Challenge Tour's D+D Real Czech Open, Ruaidhri McGee's level-par 71 left him tied for 45th, five shots behind England's Ross McGowan and Frenchman Robin Roussel as Cormac Sharvin and Robin Dawson shot 72s, Paul McBride a 73 and Conor O'Rourke a 76.

Darren Clarke was just two behind clubhouse leader Steve Parel after he rattled in six birdies in a two-under 68 in the Senior PGA Championship at Oak Hill in New York.

The 2011 Open champion was three-under with three holes to play when there was a 90-minute weather delay, and he bogeyed the 18th after overshooting the green.

Paul McGinley was among the later starters with 1995 Open champion John Daly, who was riding in a cart again and waiting to hear if the R&A will allow him to become the first man to use a buggy in The Open in July.

On the Symetra Tour, Leona Maguire got her bid for a third win this season off to a promising start in the Zimmer Biomet Championship in Alabama.

The Slieve Russell star (24) birdied three of her last seven holes to post a two-under 70 that left her inside the top-10, just three strokes behind Hungary's Csicsi Rozsa and South Korea's Yujeong Son.

On the LPGA Tour, Stephanie Meadow's two-over 73 left her eight adrift of Jennifer Song, Anna Nordqvist and Bronte Law in the Pure Silk Championship in Virginia.

Made in Denmark,

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Charles Schwab Challenge,

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