Jordan Spieth’s so close: His quest for a first Texas Open title off to a strong start

The 27-year-old carded a first round 5-under-par 67 that left him tied fourth and just three strokes behind the early pace-setter Camilo Villegas.

In a peculiar way, Jordan Spieth's record in the Texas Open is in complete contrast to the rest of his career.

The American made a sensational start to life in the world's elite, becoming the second-youngest winner of the Masters (after Tiger Woods) and the youngest US Open champion since Bobby Jones.

It's also no secret that since claiming a third Major Championship, the 2017 Open, his returns have hurtled in the wrong direction.

It is, however, something of a surprise to notice that the Dallas man's efforts in his home Open have travelled in the opposite direction.

He struggled to begin with, finishing T41st on debut in 2012 and missing the cut a year later.

In 2014 he seemed set for a repeat, lying T108th after round one, but he found something and rescued his weekend.

Since then, he's finished second in 2015 and, four years on, he threatened to win before drifting away at the weekend.

Jordan Spieth starts strongly at Valero Texas Open

Having posted a first round 5-under-par 67 in this year's tournament to lie just three shots back of the lead, Spieth has the possibility of neatly completing his upward trend in the Texas Open whilst also confirming his return from the doldrums.

His Thursday circuit, which included seven birdies and two bogeys, gives him a fine opportunity to land a sixth top 15 finish in seven starts, but he will also be desperate to turn all of that promise into a long-awaited next victory.

The missing ingredient this year? Getting into contention hasn't been a problem, but finding a ruthless final round has.

Where better to complete the job than on home soil - and the week before he returns to Augusta National, one of his favourite courses?

Spieth is the 9/2 favourite with Paddy Power heading into the second round and it might be worth noting that he likes being in the mix: 11 of his 14 career wins came when he was in the top 10 all week.

Let's take a look at what he said after his Thursday round.

On being pleased with his score

"I certainly would have signed up for 5-under starting out. Felt like I played some really nice golf on our first nine, the back nine. Then just kind of got a little loose off the tee on the second nine. I hit some decent drives, ended up in iffy spots.

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"Overall, just chipped and putted really well, which was the difference maker today. I didn't quite hit it as good as I have been, but certainly the short game came through.

"I kind of put a little more emphasis on that this week, so kind of a little balancing act right now trying to get enough work in on all facets of the game."

On his position going into Friday

"5-under around this track's a good score. I'd take four more of them. I think tomorrow afternoon it's going to be as challenging as it was this morning if not more when we have a little breeze picking up, so I'll be probably chasing somebody around 10 under and just trying to hit fairways and greens."

On making an excellent birdie at 8

"I sure did steal one. I had 208-yards to that back right pin. I was trying to cut it into the breeze and have it come down short of the ridge. The wind kind of stopped, so it got all the way back there and I took advantage. I won't make many birdies from that far in on that hole very often."

Spieth's last win was at the 2017 Open.
Spieth's last win was at the 2017 Open.

On the ball-striking problems

"I've got all afternoon to figure that out on the range. I had really bad contact today. Normally, even if I don't strike the ball well, I'm hitting it close to the middle of the face. The rest of the swing, I feel like I'm swinging the same and putting a good move on it. It's just, when you're off by five, six millimetres, it will affect that ball flight."

On being helped by Jason Dufner

"Oh, Duf? Yeah, he's somebody that has a good knowledge of the golf swing. He's helped a lot of guys. You can just bounce ideas off him. I can always say, 'Hey, I'm trying to do this, what's this feel like to you?' That kind of stuff. He's been a good buddy and that's not out of the ordinary out here."

READ MORE: Andy Murray admits he could turn to the fairway once he retires from tennis

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