Sat, Aug 12, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Spieth must catch up in quest for Grand Slam

AP, CHARLOTTE, North Carolina

Jordan Spieth reacts to his putt during the first round of the PGA Championships on Thursday at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Photo: AFP

Jordan Spieth only needs to win the PGA Championship to complete the career Grand Slam.

It just feels like he has to win another US Open.

Quail Hollow presented a stern test in Thursday’s opening round, primarily because of the firm, fast and frightening greens for which the US Open is known.

The result was the highest score to lead the first round of the PGA Championship in seven years, a four-under 67 by Kevin Kisner and Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark.

Both made birdie on the 18th hole with lengthy putts that trickled into the cup.

“You need to be defensive on these greens — you have to,” Spieth said after his 72 left him five shots behind.

Spieth did not make a putt longer than 5 feet — that was for par on his second hole.

He still hit the ball well enough to grab two birdies late in the round that enabled him to keep the damage to a minimum.

If he had not made those birdies, he worried he might have shot himself out of the tournament.

For all the talk about this 7,600-yard course favoring the big hitters, the shortest club in the bag turned out to be just as valuable.

“Any time you have a putt down grain, downhill ... we just tap it and hope it stops by the hole,” Jon Rahm said after a 70.

US Open champion Brooks Koepka led five players at 68. He missed a half-dozen putts from 12 feet or closer, and while it looked as though he hit the ball well enough to go low at Quail Hollow, he was not the least bit frustrated.

“That’s just a major. You’ve got to stay patient. You can’t make doubles out here. That’s the big thing. Make sure the worst score you make is a bogey and give yourself a couple of good chances on the easier holes,” Koepka said.

That is the way Kisner approached it.

Given the size of Quail Hollow, Kisner drew up a simple plan: He identified four or five holes where he could make birdie and he played for par everywhere else.

“I birdied them all today,” Kisner said. “Make a lot of pars and get to a par five or one of those short par fours, I can do my wedge game and get it to 10 or 12 feet. That’s my plan. Other than that, I’m playing for par.”

Quail Hollow played to an average score of 74.7, making the PGA Championship look like the toughest test of the year in the majors.

The PGA Championship typically features good scoring because it is held in August when water has to be kept on the greens.

Just not this one.

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