Spieth leads; Woods in last place at World Challenge


WINDERMERE, Fla. – Jordan Spieth picked up where he left off Thursday, shooting a 6-under 66 to take a one-shot lead after the first round of the Hero World Challenge. Here’s the skinny on Round 1 at Isleworth Country Club:

The leaderboard: Jordan Spieth (-6); Henrik Stenson, Zach Johnson, Steve Stricker and Rickie Fowler at -5; Graeme McDowell, Hideki Matsuyama, Jimmy Walker at -4

What it means: Coming off his second pro title last week in Australia, Spieth kept on rolling with a seven-birdie performance that put him in position to end the year on a high note. The 21-year-old has already achieved two of his three goals for 2014 – contend in a major and make the Ryder Cup team – and now is in position to knock off the third one, too: win multiple events.

Round of the day: After an opening birdie, Spieth made five birdies in a row around the turn to take the lead, then added another birdie on the reachable 13th to post 6 under and take the first-round lead. It wasn’t quite the 63 that he shot in the final round of the Australian Open, but his 66 on a tough golf course was an auspicious start.

Best of the rest: Like Spieth, Henrik Stenson continued to build off his late-season momentum on Thursday. The world No. 2 and Orlando resident won the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai in his most recent event, then posted seven birdies in the opening round here to sit just one shot off the lead. Defending champion Zach Johnson recovered from three early bogeys by shooting a back-nine 30 and opening 67.

Biggest disappointment: Tournament host Tiger Woods, playing his first competitive round in nearly four months, looked awful around the greens on his way to shooting an opening 77 – four shots worse than the next nearest competitor. Rust was to be expected in Woods’ first appearance since the PGA, but the short-game sloppiness took even the former world No. 1 by surprise.

Biggest storyline to watch on Friday: Can Woods show any signs of life on Friday? He probably already shot himself out of contention, but with three good rounds he might be able to position himself for a decent finish.