Spieth in fine start with five-under par round

Jordan Spieth (left) and Dustin Johnson line up their putts on the 16th hole as they come to the end of their rounds.        	 HOTO: REUTERS.

Jordan Spieth (left) and Dustin Johnson line up their putts on the 16th hole as they come to the end of their rounds. HOTO: REUTERS.

Jordan Spieth’s dream of making golfing history by winning the first three majors of the year is very much alive after a superb opening round at the 144th Open Championship – but it could have been spectacular.

The American wonderkid rocketed to near the top of the leaderboard during a blistering start to his round on the Old Course, sending shockwaves through St Andrews.

Spieth birdied his first two holes of the day on his way to a front nine of just 31 blows to sit in second place. He reached six under soon after but a bogey on the 13th checked his progress and another followed at the 17th when he fell victim to the infamous Road Hole bunker. A closing birdie meant he signed for a 67 to sit five under par. 

The reigning Masters and US Open champion is bidding to become the first man since Ben Hogan in 1953 to win the first three majors of the year. Victory at St Andrews would also set up Spieth for an unprecedented attempt at becoming the first player to win the Grand Slam – winning all four majors in a calendar year.

There had been concern that his bid for a first Open win would be hampered by a late arrival in Scotland on Sunday night. Spieth caught a red-eye flight from Illinois directly after winning the John Deere Classic in a play-off, choosing to hone his game on the PGA Tour rather than acclimatise to links golf by playing in the Scottish Open at Gullane.

But the world number two made a mockery of suggestions he was not ready to take on the unique challenge presented by the many humps and hollows of the Old Course.

His rock steady iron play and dead-eyed putting were in full flow during a magnificent front nine. His approach into the first green sounded the warning bell as he pitched a wedge into just six feet before inevitably holing the putt. But his short iron into the sixth was the highlight as he struck it stone dead to set up another birdie. 

Spieth’s back nine was less explosive as the temperature dropped and the wind picked up. But he was sitting pretty in sixth position on the leaderboard by the time he shook hands with his playing partners on the famous 18th green.

There was more than a little mischief making by the R&A when they paired the 21-year-old Texan with Dustin Johnson, the man he pipped to the US Open title just three weeks ago at Chambers Bay, for the first two rounds.

If Johnson needed any extra motivation for bouncing back from his heartbreaking loss in Seattle, the chance to outplay the man who denied him his first major certainly would have provided it.
Whatever his motivation, Johnson was firing on all cylinders as he stormed his way to the top of the leaderboard with an opening seven-under-par 65. 

The American Ryder Cup star left even his brilliant playing partner trailing in his wake with an awesome display of power hitting and deadly accurate iron shots.

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