Jordan Spieth chews way to Open lead

Jordan Spieth3

Jordan Spieth is one of a trio of Americans leading the way after the opening round of the Open at Royal Birkdale.

Spieth, 23, posted a bogey-free five-under-par 65 to set the clubhouse lead and was swiftly joined by US Open champion Brooks Koepka and, later in the day, Matt Kuchar.

Throughout his round, Spieth was chewing gum and said that after birdieing a few holes on the front nine with it in, he didn’t want to spit it out in case it upset his flow.

“I got out here and Cameron [McCormick – his coach] offered me a piece of gun,” he said. “I was one-under through two, and I thought I better keep it in and it's still in now. It's probably about time for a new piece.

Jordan Spieth2

“Payne Stewart used to do it and it served him well,” he continued. “I think mint is meant to have some sort of effect on nerves. But I was still feeling them a bit out there!”

Spieth is in the early-late draw and, with tomorrow’s forecast set to be poor – particularly in the afternoon – he knew how important it was to get off to a positive start.

“I thought today's round was extremely important, as they all are, but given the forecast coming in, I thought you really needed to be in the red today,” he explained. 

“You can certainly make up ground, in a round like tomorrow, and we'll see it happen, but being able to kind of play with shots or play a little more conservative, that's nice and very helpful.”

Brooks Koepka

Like Spieth, Koepka was heading into the Open coming in off the back of a victory, having not played since lifting the US Open trophy last month. If onlookers were surprised at how little rustiness the 27-year-old showed though, he certainly wasn't.

"I felt like I was in control of the golf ball pretty much all day," he said. "And it was just fun to get back playing again. After taking four weeks off, it's kind of nice to get back inside the ropes and finally get those competitive juices flowing. 

"I wasn't concerned one bit. If I'm mentally recharged, my swing has done the same thing for years. So it didn't take too long to get back into it."

Matt Kuchar

The final of the three Americans to make it to five-under-par was Matt Kuchar, although for a while it looked as though he was in with a shout of achieving that elusive 62.

The 39-year-old went out in 29 to be five-under-par but came home in level par 36 and credited the preparation he had at last week's Scottish Open for helping him post such a good score.

"I'm certainly very happy," he said. "I watched some of the golf this morning on TV and it looked awfully challenging. It looked like anything under par was going to be a good score. For me to start my Open with a 29 on the front nine, is a great way to start.

"I was really happy with my performance last week at the Scottish Open. We had a couple awfully challenging days there and I remember being on the course thinking I'm glad I'm over here, glad I'm doing this. 

"It was extremely difficult conditions, but this is not something I can ever remember doing in the States."

Paul Casey and Charl Schwartzel are one shot further back on four-under-par, while Ian Poulter, Justin Thomas, Richard Bland, Austin Connelly, Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Charley Hoffman are in a group on three-under-par.

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