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Jordan Spieth hooks Texas gallery at AT&T Byron Nelson

Jordan Spieth shoots 63 to co-lead first round of 2021 AT&T Byron Nelson
In his 1st start since the Masters last month, Jordan Spieth shoots 9-under 63 for a share of the lead at the AT&T Byron Nelson at TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas, just north of his lifelong hometown of Dallas.

Lifelong Dallas resident holes 55-foot eagle putt on last hole to shoot 9-under 63 for share of lead at TPC Craig Ranch in north Texas

For Jordan Spieth, this year is starting to feel like old times again.

Spieth holed a 55-foot eagle putt on the final hole Thursday to cap a 9-under 63 and grab a share of the lead at the PGA Tour’s AT&T Byron Nelson in McKinney, Texas.

Spieth, a lifelong resident of nearby Dallas, was tied with American J.J. Spaun in the $8.1 million event at TPC Craig Ranch in suburban north Texas.

When Spieth last competed in the Lone Star State, he won the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio on April 4. It was the 12th career victory for the three-time major champion but his first in nearly four years, since he won 2017 British Open. In the next week, Spieth tied for third at the Masters, then took three weeks off – not even any practice, he said – before his return to competition in Texas.

“I had nerves on No. 1 like it's the first shot of the season,” he said.

When he holed a birdie putt from 12 feet on the opening par 4, any jitters that he might have had quickly dissipated. The birdie jump-started a 4-under start though six holes and an eventual bogey-free day.

“That gave me a lot of confidence to start out today,” he said. Spieth played the four par 5s in 5 under on a soggy track that was under “lift, clean and place” rules. His driving proved to be a big key as he hit 11 of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens in regulation.

Spieth enjoyed an all-Texas pairing with Dallas products Scottie Scheffler and Will Zalatoris, and the north Texas fans clearly were behind them. When the Texas trio finished with two eagles – Zalatoris had the other one, on a 14½-foot putt – and a birdie at the 18th, their gallery cut loose.

“The roar was pretty electric,” said Spieth, who was a freshman on the University of Texas' 2012 NCAA champions. “I mean, it's just fun. It's just awesome feeling the support. … We're not necessarily doing it for the roars, but it's a cool bonus at the end when it caps off a round like that.”

Spaun, a 30-year-old Californian who is seeking his first victory on the PGA Tour, has struggled in 2021, with seven missed cuts in 10 starts. He posted his best result of the year, a T-18, last week at Quail Hollow to rise more than 100 spots in the world ranking, to No. 478. Spaun also posted a bogey-free round and, like Spieth, played the par 5s flawlessly, with four birdies.

Americans Joseph Bramlett, Doc Redman and Aaron Wise were tied for third with Spain’s Rafa Cabrera Bello at 8-under 64.

Twelve players, including former Masters champions Sergio Garcia of Spain and Charl Schwartzel of South Africa, shared seventh place at 65.

Whatever mystery might have existed this week about TPC Craig Ranch as a first-time PGA Tour site didn’t last long as 132 players in the 156-man field broke par.

Three members of last week’s winning U.S. Walker Cup team competed. Tyler Strafaci, making his professional debut, shot 70. Cole Hammer and Pierceson Coody, college teammates at Texas who were raised in the state, competed as amateurs. Hammer shot 68, and Coody shot 74. (For scores, click here.)

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