Spieth struggles in shocking loss in opening round

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Following a disastrous opening match loss to Hideto Tanihara 4 and 2 in the World Golf Championship-Dell Technologies Match Play Event, Jordan Spieth says he will be “rooting for a Ryan Moore victory tomorrow.” 

If both Spieth and Moore win their Thursday matches, their clash on Friday would be a de facto play-in match for the single elimination stage of the tournament. 

Spieth will surely be rooting against Moore if that were to occur — match play is a funny game. 

Spieth never looked comfortable Wednesday on the course he knows so well from his playing days at the University of Texas. He had multiple uncharacteristic mistakes on the day, including an ugly pull-hooked approach shot on No. 12. He would bogey the hole and give Tanihara a 3 up advantage he would never relinquish. 

Even playing against Spieth — the Austin darling and hometown favorite — Tanihara assured the media he felt right at home on the wind-blown Austin Country Club. And he backed it up with his play. 

“I knew if I brought my “A” game, I could probably compete against him,” Tanihara said. 

Tanhihara showed methodical precision throughout the day, limiting his mistakes and taking advantage of miscues from Spieth. Tanihara capitalized on three bogeys by Spieth over the final nine holes to close out the match on the 16th hole. 

“Just an off day,” Spieth said. “Played a really good opponent… He only made one mistake all day.” 

Earlier in the week, Spieth commented that he can’t wait for this year’s Masters to be behind him. And who can blame him? Every week he faces the same questions about his back-nine collapse at Augusta National 12 months ago. 

And as the azaleas of Augusta get closer and closer to blooming, Spieth seems to be more and more fixated with the allure of reclaiming the green jacket. After a 20 minute post-round session on the range, he couldn’t help but talk about tuning up his swing in preparation for the Masters in two weeks.  

“I liked my wedge play,” Spieth said. “I’ve been working on that. Different trajectories, I need that in a couple of weeks.” 

If he can’t get his game in shape in the next two days, he’ll have all weekend to prepare for his long-awaited return to Augusta National.