Jordan Spieth was flying blind into this week’s Open Championship, not arriving at St. Andrews until Monday and risking his chances to win his third major with only limited practice and the possibility of still suffering from jet lag. But by teeing off early in the first round, when the weather was calm and conditions were perfect, Spieth caught a lucky break.
Spieth took advantage of the conditions in what was his first round at St. Andrews as a pro to put together five birdies in the first seven holes on his way to a 5-under 67.
How important was it to tee off early? Of the first 147 golfers to complete the first round, only 23 shot a round in the 60s (3-under or better). Of those, 16 were shot by golfers in one of the first 17 groups to tee off. Spieth was in group No. 17.
The early morning conditions were exactly what Spieth needed to get off to a good start. By the afternoon, things had started to take a turn for the worse. While Spieth was in a light sweater. Players in the afternoon were in cold weather gear.
Rickie Fowler even had snow gloves to keep his hands warm, and looked an awful lot like the little brother from “A Christmas Story.”
To make things even better for Spieth, the weather for the second round is expected to flip-flop. Afternoon golfers in Round 1 will tee off early in Round 2. While forecasts had been calling for rain in the afternoon on Friday, that won’t be the case now.
The official weather report for Round 2 is now “spells of heavy rain between 5 a.m. and 11 a.m., winds from 18 to 35 mph,” according to ESPN. By the afternoon, things will look much different and the golfers will only have to battle the wind.
Spieth will be one of the last ten groups to tee off in the second round, with his group scheduled to go off at 2:34 p.m. local time.
With the rain and the wind, there will likely be few rounds in the 60s in Round 2. But golfers who tee off later could have a better chance of avoiding bad scores.
In other words, early in Round 1 may end up being the only time all weekend that golfers will really get a chance to attack the golf course. Spieth did and in doing so, he avoided the rough start many feared because of his decision to play in the US the week before.
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