A lost ball in the rough and a ball stuck up a tree, both leading to double-bogeys. It’s the sort of story to be heard in any clubhouse following a Saturday morning medal round.
Though in this case it was just two holes in a whole golf bag full of ups-and-downs for three-time major winning Jordan Spieth in posting a three-over par 73 on the opening day of the U.S. Open at Winged Foot.
Spieth had bogeyed the first and then lost a ball down the right side of the second but without the aid of spectators – despite there being 425 ball spotters employed this week – he couldn’t find his ball within the required three minute search time.
The winner of the 2015 U.S. Open, who has not won since capturing the 2017 Open Championship, was driven back to the tee to play his third shot but walked off a few minutes later with a double-bogey ‘6’.
No matter, as Spieth then got back to level with three birdies in succession from the fourth before making the turn at level par.
Though the golfing gods were not done with the Lone Star golfer.
Things began to unravel with a bogey at the par-3 10th hole, where he couldn’t save par from a greenside bunker. He was in the trees at 11, but hit a terrific second shot under one branch and over some others to inside 11 feet.
In playing his second shot at the 12th, Spieth’s ball was lost in the trees and being unable to identify it meant a penalty shot and walking out with an eventual double-bogey ‘7’.
Spieth did birdie 15 but a bogey followed at 17.
The former World No. 1 but currently World No. 67 hit just three of the 14 Winged Foot fairways. His thoughts:
“Standing on a tee at the U.S. Open and not exactly knowing where the ball is going to go is not a great feeling,” Spieth admitted. “I know you guys probably haven’t experienced that before, but it’s not incredibly enjoyable. But I’ll grind it out. I don’t ever give up. I have no reason to. I’m here.
“I feel that, even with not having much tee to green, I can somehow still shoot an even or under par round on this course,” he added, “and that’s incredible self-belief in the grind.”
It’s hard not to feel for the Texan as he is one of golf’s Mr. Nice Guys but ever the grinder, who can rule out a Spieth revival given the work he puts into it?