Graeme McDowell has his work cut out to make the weekend in Fort Worth after an opening 74 but there’ll be no such fears for Jordan Spieth and Sergio Garcia after superb seven-under 63s on day one of the Charles Schwab Challenge.
McDowell arrived fresh off missing out on US Open qualifying on Tuesday and despite playing his outward half in one-under, there was no good news for the 41-year old on his homeward half on Thursday.
A wild drive off hole 2 – his 11th – led to a bogey before McDowell was taking a penalty drop after another errant tee-shot at his 14th. That mistake led to a double with the 2010 US Open champ dropping two more shots in an inward nine of 40 for a four-over 74 that sees him languishing in a tie for 98th ahead of day two.
Tournament favourite Spieth, meanwhile, lived up to his billing, firing seven birdies in a bogey-free 63. Looking to double down on his victory at the Valero Texas Open, Spieth again made home comforts count and will take some beating even at this early stage of the tournament.
“It’s hard to go any lower,” Spieth said. “Made some putts, got started on the first hole today, that one goes in, and that’s what I talked about before the tournament. If I could get a couple to go in early in the first round and the confidence and the work I’ve been doing on my stroke the last few days, which is a somewhat significant change in a stroke feel, I thought that would exude just a little bit of confidence into the rest of the round on greens where I’ve been very successful on before.”
Garcia also managed to sign for a blemish-free scorecard despite tough conditions on day one and although the Spaniard wasn’t consciously drawing on fond memories on the site of his first PGA Tour win some twenty years ago, he was nonetheless pleased with the milestone.
“I obviously knew that I won here in 2001 because it was my first PGA Tour win,” said Garcia. “But no, I didn’t think that it was my 20-year anniversary. I didn’t even think about that, now that you mention it.
“But it’s nice. It’s nice to go through those milestones, I guess, and it just shows me how long I’ve been out here and how fortunate I’ve been to be consistent throughout my career, touch wood, but obviously quite healthy. All those things I’m very proud to be a part of. I’m just excited to keep it going.”
The leading pair opened up a two-shot advantage over Jason Kokrak and Erik Compton.
- Full scoring HERE