Spieth salvages a 72 at PGA as Grand Slam pursuit begins

Jordan Spieth watches his tee shot on the 11th hole during the first round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at the Quail Hollow Club on Thursday in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo)
The Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Jordan Spieth felt he was on the verge of shooting himself out of the PGA Championship. Instead, a solid par on his last hole allowed Spieth to escape with a 72 at Quail Hollow Club.

It was a reasonable start to his quest for the career Grand Slam because it could have been worse.

But it was still five shots behind Thorbjorn Olesen, who shot 67 to lead the morning wave. It was four shots worse than U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka, who almost missed his share of putts and shot a 68.

Spieth was concerned going into the week about his driver, especially with a 7,600-yard course and turf that had been soft because of rain. Turns out it was his putting.

He didn’t make a putt any longer than 5 feet all day, though part of that was the firm, fast nature of the new greens installed at Quail Hollow.

“Some of these putts that I had for birdie are really one-out-of-five to make,” he said. “I didn’t make the one out of five. Instead, I missed the 10 out of 10 from that kind of range. If I grabbed a couple of those, then I would be pleased,” Spieth said.

Spieth is in position to become the sixth — and at 24 years of age, the youngest — player to complete the career Grand Slam. Spieth won the Masters and U.S. Open two years ago, and then added the British Open last month.

Spieth said he wouldn’t feel additional pressure because he’s already won a major this year.

Still, “I don’t think I was as free rolling as I thought I would be, as you can tell by some frustration,” he said.