A nine across the board - Spieth content with strong Open start


A satisfied Jordan Spieth gave himself a "nine across the board" after claiming a share of the clubhouse lead in The Open with a fine first-round 65.

The two-time major champion kept a bogey off his card in an assured performance on Thursday, with his five-under total duly matched by last month's U.S. Open winner, Brooks Koepka.

While wind was a factor during Spieth's opening round, stronger gusts are expected to pose a significant challenge on the second day of the tournament.

"I thought today's round was extremely important," said Spieth in a news conference. "Given the forecast coming in, I thought you really needed to be in the red today.

"So, [it was] a really good start. Everything was strong. I give it a nine across the board for everything - tee balls, ball-striking, short game and putting.

"I couldn't have done much better today."

Still only 23, Spieth highlighted the value of his previous Open outings in helping him to make a strong start at Birkdale.

"I think experience plays a big role in dealing with conditions at an Open Championship. And I feel like I've got a lot of experience for having played four, this being my fifth," he added.

"I've had a chance to win [when finishing a shot outside a play-off at St Andrews in 2015]. I've been on good ends of the draw, bad ends of the draw. So I kind of understand, especially going into a day like tomorrow.

"Last year's Friday round [at Royal Troon] ... I remember talking about the sheets of rain. It was like a sideways water faucet out there. And I'm expecting something like that tomorrow.

"And so I'm kind of prepared for the worst, having experienced it before. And I understand that I can still make pars that way. You control the ball off the tee, keep your hands dry, and you grind from inside 10 feet or you make a mid-ranger for par, something to keep the momentum going, that's important.

"Being mentally prepared is key. I think I'm at least going into it the right way, and we'll see if I hold that together."

Spieth, who won on his last outing at the Travelers Championship, cited improved physical fitness as a factor in his good form.

In addition, it would appear chewing gum was an unlikely aid to the Texan on Thursday.

"I brushed my teeth and then I ate breakfast. And then I got out here and Cameron [McCormick, Spieth's coach] offered me a piece of gum," he explained.

"I was one under through two, and I thought I better keep it in and it's still in now. It's probably about time for a new piece."