Jordan Spieth takes the lead after day one at Hero World Challenge


Frank Shala

Spieth, 21, won the Australian Open last week in Sydney.

On a day where tournament host Tiger Woods struggled, 21 year-old Jordan Spieth looked like a seasoned veteran, shooting a 6-under, 66 on his way to the opening round lead at the Hero World Challenge.

“It was a good Thursday. Really good start,” said Spieth. “Nice to put myself in position under par; get a real feel for how the course is playing this week.”

Spieth, fresh off of his win at last weeks Australian Open, birdied the final four holes on the front nine en-route to a 31 going out. He kept the momentum going on the back nine with a birdie on 10 before ending the steak with a bogey on 11. He would get the stroke back with a birdie on 13 and finished with pars the rest of the way.

“Im excited about the start to this week, I’m excited about how last week went and kind of riding the momentum,” added Spieth.

A group of players find themselves one back after day one- defending champion Zach Johnson, tour veteran Steve Stricker, Rickie Fowler, and world #2 ranked player Henrik Stenson, who all shot 5-under, 67.

Johnson, who shot 30 on the back nine, won this tournament last year after holing out on 18 to force a playoff with Tiger Woods.

“I didn’t have many expectations going in,” said Johnson. “I had a good range session which kind of felt nice. Today was a day of just going out there and having fun and free wheeling it.”

Stricker, who now plays a part-time schedule on tour and hasn’t played since a top ten finish at the PGA Championship in August felt great after his opening round.

“It’s been three months since I played, so I didn’t really know what to expect,” said Stricker. “It was a good round, good way to start the tournament.”

Fowler, who had one of the better years of any player on tour last year despite not collecting win, rallied with five birdies on the back nine to finish his round.

“A little up and down early, but played a good, solid back nine,” said Fowler. “Nice start to the event.”

Stenson birdied 17, his seventh birdie of the round to close the gap on Spieth.

As for Woods, he would finish the day in last place after a 5-over, 77. He struggled right out of the gate with bogies on the first two holes on his way to an opening nine 41, hitting only one of seven fairways and three of nine greens.

Woods’ salvaged the back nine, shooting a par 36 but struggled with many aspects of his game, particularly his short game.

A host of players are two back after shooting 4-under, 68 including Hideki Matsuyama, two-time World Challenge winner Graemee McDowell, Jimmy Walker, Bubba Watson, and world #2 ranked player Henrik Stenson.

Matt Kuchar and Bubba Watson are both three back after shooting 3-under, 69.

Woods will be the first on the course Friday, with an 11:20 tee time alongside Patrick Reed. Spieth and Johnson will tee off at 12:40 in round two.