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Dallas teen starts prep graduation day on PGA Tour

IRVING, Texas (AP)—Jordan Spieth started his high school graduation daywith a round of golf—in the PGA Tour’s Byron Nelson Championship.

The 17-year-old amateur birdied the first two holes Saturday. He was 5 underand within three strokes of the lead before hitting a couple of tee shots intobunkers. He finished with a 2-over 72 and was 1 under for the tournament, onlyfour strokes behind leader Ryan Palmer (73).

Spieth’s round ended about 4 p.m. time, the same time the other 245 boys inthe senior class of Dallas Jesuit Prep were beginning their graduation ceremonyon the SMU campus about 20 miles away.

IRVING, TX - MAY 28: Jordan Sp…
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Because of expected traffic, Spieth’s mother said they wouldn’t try to getto the ceremony, which was also near where Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo wasgetting married.

With a large gallery following Spieth and playing partner Jerry Kelly , theteenager opened with a 10-foot birdie putt.

Then on the 190-yard No. 2 hole, with heavy winds bending the flagsticktucked on the front left of the green, Spieth hit his tee shot inside 3 feet foranother birdie.

“I was like all right, who knows what can happen, who says you can’t shoot5, 6 under today. And then reality kind of kicked in,” Spieth said. “I caughta couple of bad breaks. But also within those bad breaks, I made a couple ofamateur decisions, which definitely hurt.”

Spieth’s first hiccup came when his tee shot at the par-4 fourth holelanding on the facing of a fairway bunker. After blasting out only 50 yards—with one foot in the bunker and the other out—his third shot hit and thenrolled through the green. When the ball rolled off the back of the green, Spiethgritted his teeth while dropping into a half squat and gripping his club hardwith both hands.

After he chipped to 8 feet off, he two-putted for double bogey.

Before his first putt at No. 4, Spieth stood in front of a leaderboard whichhad his name directly below Palmer and Sergio Garcia , then the co-leaders whohad not yet teed off.

Spieth (pronounced SPEE-th) had another bogey at No. 9 when he hit anotherfairway bunker, then found a greenside bunker before blasting to 5 feet. Afteran 11-foot birdie on No. 10, his first tee shot at No. 11 went out of bounds andhe had a double bogey 6.

“On four or five holes today I made four or five swings where I wasn’tready to hit me. And it cost me five shots,” he said. “But, you know, I’mhappy today the ball is rolling on the greens and my putter is keeping me inthis and helping me. Maybe one of these rounds I’ll find a way to not make anybogeys.”

With winds were sustained at 25 mph with gusts near 40, it was a tough dayfor scoring. There were only eight under-par rounds among 74 players, the best a3-under 67.

After a birdie at the par-4 14th, Spieth had consecutive bogeys before a10-foot birdie putt at the par-3 17. He then had a 7-foot par-saving putt aftermissing the green with his approach at No. 18, where he was greeted with aroaring ovation from the fans.

“I’m actually in a good mood because I finished well on 17 and 18,” hesaid.

It is the second year in a row the Spieth made the cut at the Nelson. Hefinished tied for 16th last year and was within three strokes of the lead after10 holes in the final round. He received a sponsor’s exemption to play in thetournament again this week.

His caddie this week is another local amateur, and his future teammate whenthey get to the University of Texas next fall. He is carrying Spieth’s “JesuitRangers” bag from his high school team.

Spieth, a past U.S. Junior Amateur champion, plans to take part in a U.S.Open qualifying tournament June 6 in Dallas.

When Spieth made it to play the weekend rounds as a 16-year-old at theNelson last year, he was the sixth-youngest person to make the cut in a PGA Tourevent.

After Spieth’s second round Friday, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cubantweeted: “Shout out to Huge Mavs Fan JORDAN SPEITH.. Congrats and Keep itrolling !!!”

Spieth was sitting in a suite with tournament officials and other golfersWednesday night at the American Airlines Center when the Mavericks won Game 5 oftheir Western Conference finals series against Oklahoma City to earn a spot inthe NBA Finals.