Golf | Spieth battling to make Valspar cut

Miami – World number one Jordan Spieth was
left staring down the barrel of his second missed cut of 2016 on Thursday after
firing a five-over-par 76 in the opening round of the Valspar Championship.

The defending champion, who had missed the
cut at the Northern Trust Open in Los Angeles last month, suffered a torrid
round on the Innisbrook Resort’s challenging Copperhead layout to finish the
day way off the pace.

Spieth, who struggled to get to grips with
the blustery conditions, carded six bogeys and one birdie and will need to
produce something miraculous on Friday if he is to extend his participation
into the weekend.

“It was a very tough day. I just
didn’t hit enough greens,” said Spieth, who never recovered after a
disastrous start which included five bogeys and one birdie in his first seven
holes to put him four over at the turn.

“I got off to a poor start and I was
behind the eight-ball with gusty wind on a tough golf course,” the
22-year-old Texan said.

Spieth was also dismayed with his putting
performance on greens that played very slowly.

“It’s so tough on some of these putts
down the hill to hit them as hard as we have to hit them,” Spieth said.

“It’s one thing to practice on the
greens and get used to it, it’s another to actually do it.”

Spieth was left nine shots adrift of early
pace-setters Keegan Bradley and Ken Duke, who carded four-under-par 67s to grab
a share of the lead as the first round continued.

Bradley shot five birdies and one bogey, a
haul which included a superb 25-foot birdie putt at the par-three fourth.

Unlike Spieth, Bradley was happy with the
condition of the greens.

“I think this is a great speed for
these greens,” he said, admitting however that the wind had caused him

“It seems to be very up and down …
it’s a tough round. The course is so good because if you hit good shots it
really rewards you,” he said.

The highest non-American players on the leader
board early on Thursday included England’s Danny Willett, Sweden’s Jonas Blixt,
South Africa’s Retief Goosen, Germany’s Martin Kaymer and New Zealand’s Danny
Lee, who all shot 70s.

Leading first round scores in the US PGA Tour Valspar Championship on Thursday (USA unless stated, par 71):

67 – Keegan Bradley, Ken Duke, Charles Howell III

68 – Chesson Hadley

69 – Charley Hoffman, Greg Yates, Chez Reavie

– Daniel Berger, Jamie Lovemark, Matt Every, Brian Harman, Danny
Willett (ENG), Jerry Kelly, Brandon Hagy, Scott Brown, Jonas Blixt
(SWE), Ryan Moore, Retief Goosen (RSA), Webb Simpson, Martin Kaymer
(GER), Danny Lee (NZL), Will Mackenzie, Cameron Smith (AUS), Tyler

71 – David Hearn (CAN), Troy Merritt, Steve Stricker,
Charl Schwartzel (RSA)
, Brendon Todd, Ryan Palmer, Patrick Reed, Bill
Haas, Henrik Stenson (SWE), Chad Campbell, Daniel Summerhays, Kyle
Reifers, John Huh, Mark Hubbard, Brett Stegmaier, Noh Seung-Yul (KOR),
Matt Kuchar, Blayne Barber, Patton Kizzire, Francesco Molinari (ITA),
Hiroshi Iwata (JPN)

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