SPRINGFIELD, N.J. – Through 15 holes at the PGA Championship, Baltusrol Golf Club had a leg up on Jordan Spieth. After a late rally, though, the two-time major champ played this week’s host course to a draw.
In danger of playing the entire opening round without making a birdie, Spieth rolled in a 16-footer on the 16th hole before adding a two-putt birdie on No. 18 to close out an even-par 70.
“I thought I was going to get shut out,” Spieth said. “[Caddie Michael Greller] and I were trying to set a goal after No. 7 to get two birdies to get back to even par teeing off on 18. I gave myself those opportunities.”
Spieth made his lone blemish of the day on that seventh hole, where an errant drive led to a pitch-out and a double bogey. While the birdies weren’t dropping, the 23-year-old kept himself in the round with a handful of clutch par saves that he's made commonplace in majors.
Despite those saves, his focus after the round was squarely on his putter, which he used 33 times to complete his round that began in sweltering heat and ended amid light rain.
“My timing has been off on my putting, on my strike,” he said. “I’m not putting a nice, aggressive strike on the ball, but it doesn’t feel differently. It seems to be hitting it too late or whatever. So I was playing with that a little out there.
“Once I feel like I’m in a good rhythm, and match the line up with it, I’ll be able to pour it in out here.”
Thanks to his closing birdies, Spieth is within five shots of Jimmy Walker and, more importantly, not scrambling to get back onto the proper side of the cut line heading into the second round where inclement weather is expected to be a factor.
“I haven’t started off a tournament with a low round to start the tournament in quite a while, which is a bit of a bummer. The same this week. I had plenty of chances early to get to 3, 4 under,” he said. “If I can post something like 4 or 5 (under) tomorrow, we’re definitely back in the thick of things.”