Spieth finds going tough in 1st round of Australian Open - Sports Illustrated

Spieth finds going tough in 1st round of Australian Open

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SYDNEY (AP) Last year, Jordan Spieth played what he called the best round of his life by shooting a record 8-under 63 to win the Australian Open by six strokes.

A year later, under similarly tough conditions at the Australian Golf Club, the 22-year-old American, now a two-time major and Tour Championship winner, found the going much more difficult, shooting an even-par 71 that left him five strokes behind surprise first-round leader Lincoln Tighe of Australia.

''China was really wet and the Tour Championship was very tough playing in the rain,'' Spieth said, referring to the rainy HSBC Champions tournament he played in Shanghai earlier this month. ''But to have something this windy, it's been a while.''

His final-round 63 last year was a record for the revamped Jack Nicklaus-designed layout, which was being played as a par-71 for the first time. Strong winds played havoc with the scores that week, with only eight players finishing the tournament under par.

The Australian course was in a similar nasty mood on Thursday, with northwesterly winds of about 40 kilometers per hour (25 mph) making life difficult for most of the players.

''The toughest part is when you have the crosswinds and you've got to pick what shot to play, because you can use the same club and it can go 30 yards' difference in the air,'' Spieth said.

The American was also plagued by poor shots off the tee with his driver during his morning round.

''I hit two fairways on the back nine, so when you're playing out of rough or bunkers, it's hard to control,'' he said. ''Conditions were tough but I still could have found the fairways.''

Spieth did manage birdies on two par-5 holes and admitted his round ''could have been worse.''

''I had some really tough up-and-downs but managed to salvage par,'' he said. ''I hit a pretty good drive on the first hole ... made a nice putt (for birdie), but other than that it was relatively boring golf.''

The wind left him and playing partners Geoff Ogilvy and Lee Westwood with tough choices on club selection.

''I just didn't know what to hit and I was apparently two clubs off, thinking it was helping when it was actually hurting, and you saw Lee and Geoff, we just had no idea.''

Spieth couldn't go to the practice range after his round - it's not long enough to hit drivers - and it was too windy to even practice putts.

''So I think I'll get some rest,'' he added. ''It's a day when you pack it in and ... come out tomorrow ready for a low one.''