Jordan Spieth said before the AT&T Byron Nelson that he wants desperately to bring his best to TPC Craig Ranch.
The tournament gave him an exemption when he was in high school at Dallas Jesuit. He plays it every spring. It seems that everyone in a golf shirt or sun dress roots for him.
“It’s obviously the one that’s starred on the calendar,” Spieth said Tuesday afternoon.
He delivered Friday. He shot a 7-under 65 in innocent conditions on a golf course that surprised him with a smattering of forward tees and beckoning hole positions.
He and fellow Dallas resident Scottie Scheffler — both of them former All-Americans at the University of Texas — played early with defending champion K.H. Lee. Their gallery grew as the morning wore on, and by the time they played their last hole the fans were chanting their names, declaring their love (one man literally shouted, “I love you Jordan!) and singing the Texas fight song.
Scheffler shot 67-68 to start the weekend at minus 9. Spieth finished at 12 under, which typically would put a player in good position for Saturday.
But not this year. Sebastian Munoz shot a course-record 60 on Thursday. The leaderboard a day later displayed an array of low scores.
The wind, often a menace in Texas, barely huffed.
“I think I said ahead of time I thought that it would show a little more teeth than last year and I couldn't have been more wrong,” Spieth said. “I mean, a 60 yesterday and a lot of (minus) 8s and 7s all over the board. A lot of tees are up. It was very surprising.
“And then I think they were looking at the weekend as a lot less wind,” he continued, “and so they used more of the easier pins the first two days because I can only name one or two pins on this golf course that were not the easiest two locations that are on the greens.”
The numbers bore that out. The average score from the morning wave was 68.7. Players at minus 4 risk missing the cut.
There was a 62 from Ryan Palmer. David Skinns shot a 63. All of this before the last group began play.
Spieth surmised he was in “a good position,” then added: “But who's to say that 20-under's not leading at the end of this day? So I could be way back.”