Perhaps it was just a lapse in concentration that led to Jordan Spieth's poor start in Monday's first round of stroke-play qualifying at the 2011 U.S. Junior Amateur. The 2009 champion bogeyed the first hole by knocking his approach over the green. Then he uncharacteristically four-putted the third green, carelessly knocking an 18-inch par putt 6 feet past the hole and missing the come-backer for bogey. From there, Spieth played 3-under golf. He birdied holes 10, 11, 12 and 14 and nearly drove the green on the 324-yard 18th hole. A poor chip left him 14 feet from the hole. He missed the birdie putt.
Nevertheless, Spieth knows a 72 is fine. It won't help him achieve his goal of earning medalist honors for the second time in three years. He would almost need to card a 65 or 66 on Tuesday to become the top seed, which he did in 2009 at Trump National in Bedminster, N.J.
Still, Spieth knows the championship really begins on Wednesday.
He almost feels like a powerhouse NCAA basketball team waiting for the regular season to end and the tournament to commence. Get the preliminary stuff over so the fun can begin.
For Spieth, these are important months. He desperately wants to play on the USA Walker Cup Team, so any USGA victory or big amateur win is crucial to his chances. He made the cut earlier this year at the PGA Tour's HP Byron Nelson Classic and he is among the top 10 golfers in the current World Amateur Golf Rankings. He also hasn't played a junior tournament since February. He chose to play the U.S. Junior because it's a USGA championship and doing well can only enhance his chances.
He will play the Western Amateur in a couple of weeks and the U.S. Amateur at Erin Hills in late August.
"There are so many good players here who nobody has ever heard of," said Spieth. "Three years ago, I lost to Evan Beck in the semifinals and nobody had heard of him. And then he goes on and starts winning everything after the Junior. Last year I lost to Robby Shelton and I had not heard of him, either. He then beat Anthony Paolucci in the next round, so you knew he was a good player. You can have one bad round and lose. When I won two years ago, there was a round or two that I didn't play my best, but managed to win. That's what you need to do."