December 04, 2014

Round 1: Hero World Challenge

When you’re hot, you’re hot.

Fresh off his final-round 8-under 63 that helped him claim the 2014 Australian Open, Jordan Spieth came out blazing during Thursday’s first round of the Hero World Challenge contested at Isleworth Golf & Country Club in Windermere, Florida.

Propelled by an opening-nine 31 that saw him make five birdies, including four in a row, Spieth finished play with a 6-under 66, leaving him alone at the top of the leaderboard.

A group of four players that includes defending champion Zach Johnson, along with Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson and Steve Stricker are just one stroke behind, each having opened at 5-under 67.

Graeme McDowell, the 2012 Hero World Challenge champion, heads a trio of players who are two back of Spieth at 4-under 68.

“Really good start,” Spieth said. “Nice to put myself in position under par; get a feel for how the course is playing this week. Seeing some putts go in is always important and I felt like I missed it in the right spots today.”

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

While many of the players in the field enjoyed success Thursday, tournament host Tiger Woods struggled in his return after a long layoff to deal with ongoing back issues.

Woods started his round with back-to-back bogeys and things didn’t get much better from there as he struggled to a 5-over 77, leaving him last among the 18 competitors.

For the day, Woods hit eight fairways and 10 greens in regulation.

While no part of Woods’ game was particularly sharp, he was more discouraged by his putting and chipping than his full-swing mistakes.

“Today was weird. My short game was awful. I didn’t make anything,” Woods said. “I didn’t feel like I hit it that bad. It was one of those days where really nothing went my way. Hit two of the best shots I could possibly hit on 13 and I walk away with a 6.”

“Shot patterns were fantastic. I got my power back and I got my speed back. It’s nice to be able to start launching it again. That’s a very good sign.”

Proceeds from the tournament benefit the Tiger Woods Foundation and local charities.