(Reuters) - Newly crowned Masters champion Jordan Spieth endured an “off day” as fellow American Matt Every and Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell set the pace in the opening round of the RBC Heritage in South Carolina on Thursday.
Just four days after clinching a remarkable wire-to-wire victory at the Masters where he became the event’s second youngest winner, Spieth struggled to a three-over-par 74 in blustery, chilly conditions at Hilton Head Island.
The 21-year-old, who spent a whirlwind Monday of media commitments in New York, recorded two bogeys, a lone birdie and a double at the par-three 14th to end the round a distant eight strokes off the lead.
“I didn’t drive the ball well, didn’t particularly strike my irons well and chipping and putting wasn’t there,” world number two Spieth told Golf Channel about his form on the picturesque Harbour Town Golf Links.
“It just was an off day. I knew I had a really good streak of under-par rounds going ... so I‘m a little disappointed there but I’ve just got to come back tomorrow and make up for it.”
Spieth has been the hottest player in the game for the past six months and made no excuses for his lacklustre display.
“I stepped on the first tee after hitting balls and doing a little practice yesterday at a course I‘m familiar with,” said the American, who has recorded 10 top-10s in his last 12 starts, including four wins and two runner-up spots.
“There was some adapting to do on the first few holes but from there, I still should have shot a better round today.”
Every, a double winner on the PGA Tour, benefited from two chip-ins as he piled up six birdies and a bogey to fire a 66 and share top spot on the leaderboard with 2013 RBC Heritage champion McDowell.
”It was greasy, that’s how I would describe it,“ Every said of his round. ”It’s just a weird game, I probably stole five or six shots today.
“Today was probably the worst I’ve hit it in a while. Last week (at the Masters), I felt I hit it great and I missed the cut. Today was the complete opposite.”
South Korea’s Bae Sang-moon opened with a 67 while reigning champion Matt Kuchar, who played with Spieth in a high-profile grouping, launched his title defense with a four-birdie 68.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue/Steve Keating