2019 Charles Schwab Challenge scores: Jordan Spieth uses all-time putting day to get near lead
Round 1 belonged to a three-time major champion on Thursday at Colonial
Jordan Spieth doesn't lead after Round 1 of the 2019 Charles Schwab Challenge, but it also might not matter because Jordan Spieth is back! Right? We'll discuss that below, but before we dive into Spieth's first round, we need to talk about the actual leader of the tournament, a teammate of Spieth's at the 2018 Ryder Cup, Tony Finau.
First place -- Tony Finau (-6): Finau blasted his way around Hogan's Alley on Thursday in astounding fashion. The man hit three of 14 (!) fairways and still made seven birdies for the lead. That's because he was No. 1 in approach shots and also top 10 in putting. Not necessarily sustainable, but I think it also speaks to the fact that guys like Finau (and Jon Rahm in recent years) can just overpower a course that doesn't have loads of rough in its danger zones.
"I didn't know that I only hit three fairways," Finau said. "I hit a lot of greens. That's why it was surprising. I didn't know I only hit three fairways. I still felt like I could hit most of the greens from wherever position I was."
Last place -- Dru Love (+8) and Patton Kizzire (+8): No surprises here with Love, who has only made five cuts worldwide as a pro. But Kizzire is coming off a really strong performance at Augusta National. He stumbled his way to eight bogeys and 10 pars for the 78 on Thursday.
Other contenders -- Jordan Spieth (-5), Roger Sloan (-5), Jason Dufner (-3), Jimmy Walker (-3): Allow me to hoot and holler for a bit about Spieth. Was his third-place finish at the PGA Championship last week impressive? Sure it was. Was his 65 on Thursday at Colonial awesome? You bet. But Spieth is scoring right now using smoke and mirrors. He made eight birdies on Thursday even though he finished 77th in the field in approach shots. How did he do it? He made birdie putts from the following distance.
- 9 feet
- 73 feet (chip)
- 5 feet
- 30 feet
- 9 feet
- 15 feet
- 46 feet
- 6 feet
This is not even close to sustainable so don't say I didn't warn you when Spieth shoots 69-72-74 over the next three days.
Stat of the day: It's all Spieth all the time in our recap today. He's now up to 62 under since 2013.
Shot of the day: OK, this was amazing.
Quote(s) of the day: It was a tale of two quotes today with Spieth. Here they are.
Quote 1: "I feel like I put a lot of good reads on them out here. I made a couple early so the hole starts to look a little bit bigger. You start to fully trust your reads when you get a couple tricky reads and guess right early. So from there it's just about tempo of the stroke, just having the weight of the putter blade be with me and finding the right speed control on those long putts."
Quote 2: "I probably trusted [my swing] 75% [at the PGA], probably trusted it 90% today. Just trying to continue to, when you trust it, pull off the shot. You know the feel, and you know that that old ball is kind of out the window."
Speaking of trust, do I trust somebody who's moving between trusting his swing 75 percent and 90 percent? I suppose if that person is putting it like Spieth. And maybe he's a generational putter of the ball (maybe), but that's not the primary way you win three majors and 11 PGA Tour events before turning 26.
What to watch on Day 2: My big question is whether Spieth can do it another way right now other than with his flat stick. Even though he's posting scores and moving in the right direction from tee to green, his numbers aren't telling the true story of how he's hitting it. Spieth should be winning easily when he gains over 10 strokes on the field with his putter as he did last week at the PGA Championship. Even if he matches that number again this week at a place where he's won before, I'm not convinced his long game is sharp enough quite yet to win in a strong field like this one. Or is it?
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