Sport Scrambling Spieth struggles in Sydney cross-winds

Scrambling Spieth struggles in Sydney cross-winds

Jordan Spieth.
Jordan Spieth.

Jordan Spieth proved that even world number ones can be reduced to scrambling around a golf course by blustery winds after carding an even par 71 in the first round of the Australian Open on Thursday.

The 22-year-old defending champion struggled with the conditions all morning, mixing three birdies with three bogeys, including one at the last to drop to par for the round.

It was a far cry from his final round at The Australian Golf Club last year, when he defied the Sydney wind to shoot a brilliant 63 and claim the Stonehaven Cup, launching a year in which he won two majors.

“The toughest part is when you have the cross-winds and you have to decide whether it’s helping or hurting,” he told reporters.

“You can use the same club and it can go 30 yards different in the air based on if you hold it up or if you ride it. When you bring hazards in, it makes it even more challenging.”

After struggling in a group with Australian former U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy (68) and British former world number one Lee Westwood (70), Spieth said he did not think he would be too far off the pace once the round finished.

“It is what it is, I’m still at par,” he added. “Geoff in our group was leading for most of the day and was three-under.

“There may be a four or five (under) with some good putting this afternoon but I don’t see more than that.”

Spieth will be hoping to improve his driving heading into the weekend, when temperatures are expected to drop sharply after nudging 40 degrees Celsius on Thursday.

“I hit two fairways on the back nine and so when you’re playing out of rough or bunkers, it really makes it’s even harder to control,” he added.

“I really need to drive better. Given the conditions were tough, I still could have made the fairways, or taken less club to make sure I hit the fairway.”

The U.S. Masters and U.S. Open champion was, however, reasonably happy with how he had managed to rescue a par round despite his errant driving.

“The scrambling’s close, I had some really tough up-and-downs where I managed to save par … it certainly could have been worse today,” he said.

All three players in the group dropped shots at their final hole, the par four ninth, which Spieth put down to the wind and his own poor club selection, or “brain fart”, on his second shot.

“I just didn’t know what to hit, I was apparently two clubs off and you saw Lee and Geoff. We just had no idea on that fairway,” he said.