Spieth glad to be back among golf's 'best fans' at Open Championship

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Jordan Spieth (Getty Images)
Jordan Spieth (Getty Images)

Jordan Spieth savoured a return to normal among the "best fans" in golf after posting an impressive five under par 65 in the first round of the Open Championship on Thursday.

The American's opening 18 holes at Royal St. George's in Sandwich, southeast England, left him just one shot behind clubhouse leader and fellow former Open champion Louis Oosthuizen.

For Spieth, the combination of his own form and the support from a crowd of up to 32 000 spectators made for a welcome return after the 2020 edition of golf's oldest major championship was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"I've really loved this tournament," said Spieth, who won the 2017 Open at Royal Birkdale.

"I've played well here, whether I've come in in form or not.

"Now we're back, and it feels -- actually inside the ropes when we teed off on the first tee forward, it feels the most normal of any tournament I think that we've played thus far relative to that same tournament in previous years pre-Covid."

The 27-year-old added: "The fans are fantastic here. They're just the best in golf -- very knowledgeable, and you always know where your ball is even if it's a blind shot.

"It was really great to have them back and have what feels like normalcy when we teed off on the first hole."

Amid concerns many golf tournaments are now dominated by power hitting, Spieth said he enjoyed the challenge of a British Open, a championship staged on a seaside course where changing wind conditions put the emphasis on a golfer's shot-making ability.

"I think it brings a lot of the feel aspect into the game," he said.

"You get less swing-focused and more shot-focused over here because the second you take your brain off of what you're hitting, you may not find your ball.

"Instead of just a driving range shot in Palm Springs, there's always some shot you have to play that gives you a little bit of an advantage or certain club selections based on you hitting a fade or a draw."

Spieth won three majors in two years from 2015-17, a purple patch that included the Masters and US Open titles as well as his Claret Jug triumph.

He went nearly four years, without a tour victory of any kind, however, until triumphing at the Texas Open in April.

But having finished in a tie for third place at this year's Masters, a tournament he felt he "very well could have won" but for some errors in the opening rounds, Spieth said: "I feel really good about my chances going forward, as good as they have been historically.

"I like where I'm at."

Collated first round scores in the Open Championship at Royal St George's Golf Club, Sandwich, Kent on Thursday (GBR/IRL unless stated, Par 70):

64 - Louis Oosthuizen (RSA)

65 - Brian Harman (USA), Jordan Spieth (USA)

66 - Stewart Cink (USA), Benjamin Hebert (FRA), Mackenzie Hughes (CAN), Webb Simpson (USA), Dylan Frittelli (RSA)

67 - An Byeong-Hun (KOR), Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Harding (RSA), Collin Morikawa (USA), Justin Rose, Scottie Scheffler (USA), Andy Sullivan, Danny Willett, Jack Senior, Marcel Siem (GER)

68 - Jaco Ahlers (RSA), Christiaan Bezuidenhout (RSA), Paul Casey, Corey Conners (CAN), Ryan Fox (NZL), Sergio Garcia (ESP), Viktor Hovland (NOR), Dustin Johnson (USA), Chris Kirk (USA), Keith Mitchell (USA), Francesco Molinari (ITA), Brandt Snedeker (USA), Daniel van Tonder (RSA)

69 - Abraham Ancer (MEX), Marcus Armitage, Joel Dahmen (USA), Rickie Fowler (USA), Talor Gooch (USA), Lanto Griffin (USA), Marcus Kinhult (Swe), Brooks Koepka (USA), Lin Yuxin (CHN), Guido Migliozzi (ITA), Joaquin Niemann (CHI), Xander Schauffele (USA), Cameron Smith (AUS), Cameron Tringale (USA), Erik van Rooyen (RSA), Will Zalatoris (USA)

70 - Daniel Berger (USA), Richard Bland, Dean Burmester (RSA), Rafael Cabrera (ESP), Tony Finau (USA), Emiliano Grillo (ARG), Russell Henley (USA), Lucas Herbert (AUS), Max Homa (USA), Billy Horschel (USA), Jazz Janewattananond (THA), Takumi Kanaya (JPN), Chan Kim (USA), Kevin Kisner (USA), Jason Kokrak (USA), Rory McIlroy, Ryutaro Nagano (JPN), Victor Perez (FRA), Aaron Rai, Antoine Rozner (FRA), Kevin Streelman (USA), Harold Varner III (USA), Johannes Veerman (USA), Jimmy Walker (USA), Matt Wallace, Sam Horsfield

71 - Keegan Bradley (USA), Sam Burns (USA), Darren Clarke, Bryson DeChambeau (USA), Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (ESP), Matthew Fitzpatrick, Brad Kennedy (AUS), Kurt Kitayama (USA), Shane Lowry, Chengtsung Pan (TPE), Jon Rahm (ESP), JC Ritchie (RSA), Matthias Schwab (AUT), Henrik Stenson (SWE), Jonathan Thomson, Lee Westwood, Bernd Wiesberger (AUT)

72 - Christoffer Bring (DEN), Jorge Campillo (ESP), Ricardo Celia (COL), Ernie Els (RSA), Branden Grace (RSA), Padraig Harrington, Tyrrell Hatton, Daniel Hillier (NZL), Charley Hoffman (USA), Matt Jones (AUS), Rikard Karlberg (SWE), Ryosuke Kinoshita (JPN), Robert MacIntyre, Richard Mansell, Shaun Norris (RSA), Ryan Palmer (USA), Ian Poulter, Chez Reavie (USA), Patrick Reed (USA), Justin Thomas (USA), Brendon Todd (USA), Paul Waring, Adam Long (USA), Thomas Detry (BEL)

73 - Sam Forgan, Abel Gallegos (ARG), Garrick Higgo (RSA), Joe Long, Troy Merritt (USA), Sebastian Munoz (COL), Poom Saksansin (THA), Marcel Schneider (GER), Adam Scott (AUS), Jason Scrivener (AUS), Brendan Steele (USA), Gary Woodland (USA)

74 - Patrick Cantlay (USA), Rikuya Hoshino (JPN), Martin Kaymer (GER), Matt Kuchar (USA), Romain Langasque (FRA), Alexander Noren (SWE), Aaron Pike (AUS), Matthias Schmid (GER), Laird Shepherd, Min-Woo Lee (AUS)

75 - Sam Bairstow, John Catlin (USA), Jason Day (AUS), Harris English (USA), Lucas Glover (USA), Adam Hadwin (CAN), Cole Hammer (USA), Yuki Inamori (JPN), Richard T. Lee (CAN), Marc Leishman (AUS), Li Haotong Li (CHN), Michael Lorenzo-Vera (FRA), Carlos Ortiz (MEX), Nicholas Poppleton

76 - Daniel Croft, Joost Luiten (NED)

77 - Ben Hutchinson, Connor Worsdall

80 - Deyen Lawson (AUS), Phil Mickelson (USA)

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