(Reuters) – Local favourite Jordan Spieth, who showed a return to form at last week’s PGA Championship, birdied his final hole to sit one shot back of first-round leader Tony Finau at the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas on Thursday.
The energised Texan, who snapped out of a months-long funk to finish in a share of third place at the year’s second major, mixed eight birdies with a double-bogey and bogey for a five-under-par 65 in windy conditions at Colonial Country Club.
Spieth, who won at Colonial in 2016 and finished runner-up the following year, showcased his deft touch on the greens where he had no misses from within 10 feet.
“I’ve been feeling really good with the flat stick and I saved a couple pars early and that was really good for my round because I was a little off the first four holes,” said Spieth, who is seeking his first win since the 2017 British Open.
“To play those one-under when I felt like I should be a couple over allowed me to kind of settle in and get some momentum.”
Spieth, who started on the back nine, missed the green at his fourth hole, the par-three 13th, but chipped in from 25 yards for birdie. He made a trio of birdies from the 15th hole before a double-bogey at 18 where his second shot found water.
Three-times major champion Spieth roared out of the turn with two consecutive birdies and added another with a 46-foot putt at the par-three fourth before a bogey-birdie finish.
Spieth was in a share of second place with Canadian Roger Sloan, two shots ahead of a large group that included former PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner and Swede Jonas Blixt.
Finau enjoyed a near-flawless trip around Colonial with his lone bogey coming at the par-four fifth where, after a tee shot to the left rough, he sent his second shot to a greenside bunker before chipping out to 13 feet where he then needed two putts.
Defending champion Justin Rose, who counts a win among his five top-10 finishes in nine events this season, was five shots back of Finau after mixing five bogeys with a birdie for a four-over-par 74 in more difficult afternoon conditions.
Other notables in the field included Englishman Paul Casey (69), British Open champion Francesco Molinari (71), Bryson DeChambeau (72), Rickie Fowler (74), Spaniard Jon Rahm (75) and Xander Schauffele (76).
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ian Ransom)