Jordan Spieth 16 shots adrift after career-worst first round at Riviera
By Ali Stafford
Last Updated: 19/02/16 11:31am
World No 1 Jordan Spieth fired the worst first-round score of his professional career to fall 16 strokes off the pace at the Northern Trust Open.
Spieth struggled to an eight-over 79 in scoring friendly conditions on Thursday, as Camilo Villegas fired a birdie-filled 63 to surge up the leaderboard and open up a three-stroke lead over the chasing pack.
The world No 1 told reporters earlier in the week that Riviera Country Club was a course he was excited to return to, but he was noticeably off the pace on his way to recording his worst round since the 2014 Tour Championship.
Spieth now faces a battle to avoid a first missed cut of 2016 after carding eight bogeys and one double-bogey in an error-strewn display, with the 22-year-old unable to think of an explanation for why his first round went so wrong.
"I feel really confident about where my game is, and I had a great range session," Spieth told reporters. "There was nothing pinpointed that was wrong.
"I just played really poorly from good positions off the tee and didn't strike the iron shots bad either. I just overdrew it when you can't be left and I overcut it when you can't be right. It was just bad timing."
Having two-putted the first and tapped in the second, Spieth carded a three-putt bogey at the next and missed another par-save from less than six feet at the par-three sixth.
A solid 20-foot gain was quickly cancelled out by back-to-back blemishes to see Spieth reach the turn in 38, before the 22-year-old briefly halted the bogey run with a close-range birdie at the 10th.
After missing an opportunity from 10-feet at the par-five 11th, Spieth's round quickly unravelled with four bogeys in a five-hole stretch, starting when a short putt lipped out at the 12th.
Although Spieth recovered from another wayward tee shot at the 17th to leave a kick-in par, the world No 1 closed a day to forget with an uncharacteristic three-putt double-bogey at the last from less than 15 feet.
The Masters and U.S. Open winner later said he had struggled adapting to a Riviera layout that had run firm and fast earlier in the week before it was softened by overnight rain.
"I found it very difficult to trust the way the golf course is playing," the 22-year-old added. "I've never played the golf course soft.
"I've always played where you have to kind of float it on to the front of the greens and let it bounce, and I just never trusted the adjustment."
Watch the Northern Trust Open throughout the week on Sky Sports 4 - your home of golf. Or watch from £6.99 without a contract, on NOW TV.
Jordan Spieth features as part of the featured group coverage on Friday from 3pm.