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Texas amateur golfer Cole Hammer, Jordan Spieth off to slow start at U.S. Open Championship

The 120th U.S. Open Championship began on Thursday at the Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y., with both Texas Longhorns looking to make up ground on Friday.

Jordan Spieth (+3) began the day bogey-double bogey after three-putting on the first hole and then managing to get his tee-shot stuck in a tree on the second hole.

Naturally, Spieth responded with three straight birdies to get back to even par but struggled on the back nine and ultimately finished three shots over par and tied for 71st.

“All in all, shooting three over at the U.S. Open feeling like I had no control is not bad,” Spieth said. “Seven shots back after a round — if there’s any tournament where that’s okay it’s a U.S. Open.”

The struggles of the 2015 U.S. Open champion have been well documented. Spieth’s last top-10 finish came at the Charles Schwab Challenge, the first tournament of the restart. While he’s only missed the cut three times in 2020 (including last weeks Safeway Open), Spieth has finished T68, T54, T13, T30, T71, and T72.

Similar to his first round after the PGA Championship where he opened with a 73, Spieth was on the driving range nearly three hours after his round wrapped up today.

Say what you want about him, but Spieth has been working tirelessly on his swing this year, determined to find the form that won him three majors.

He was also brutally candid about his struggles in his post-round interview and was the first to admit his troubles off the tee.

“There’s a lot that’s off. I’m not really sure if I knew I would fix it,” Spieth said. “Standing on a tee at the U.S. Open and not exactly knowing where the ball is going to go is not a great feeling.”

Spieth only hit three fairways today but in classic Spieth fashion, he grinded out a round that easily could’ve been in the high 70s but somehow only shot a 73.

“I’ll grind it out. I don’t ever give up. I have no reason to. I’m here,” Spieth said. “I feel that I can somehow still shoot an even or under-par round on this course and that’s incredible self-belief in the grind.”

Meanwhile, Texas junior Cole Hammer (+7) made his second start in the U.S. Open as an amateur and currently sits at seven-over par, tied for 132nd. Hammer makes his return to the U.S. Open for the first time since 2015 (the same year Spieth won his second major) where he qualified at only 15 years old.

“It’s a lot different because back then [in 2015] I really had no idea what I was doing — I was 15,” Hammer said.

It was not all red for Hammer, who hit some exquisite shots and putts on the narrow par-70 course, including this birdie putt on the 10th hole.

Hammer last played at Winged Foot in the 2016 U.S. Amateur Four Ball, but unsurprisingly said the course is playing completely different than it was four years ago.

“The greens, other than the fact that they’re firmer, faster and probably a little more undulating,” Hammer said. “The fairways are definitely narrower this week than they were in 2016 and the rough is obviously a lot longer. It was not very penal in 2016 and now it’s almost a stroke penalty.”

Finishing runner-up to Stanford in the 2019 National Championship, Hammer and the Longhorns took out No. 1 Oklahoma State, which featured Matthew Wolff and Viktor Hovland. Wolff, who was defeated by Hammer 4 & 3 in match-play, currently is only one stroke off the lead at four-under. Justin Thomas (Jordan Spieth’s buddy in case you didn’t know) is the leader after the first day at five-under.

PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Scottie Scheffler was preparing to continue his impressive play this week at Winged Foot but had to withdraw after testing positive for COVID-19.

Scheffler finished fifth at the Tour Championship two weeks ago and tied for fourth at the PGA Championship in TPC Harding Park.

Hammer tees off at 7:40 a.m. Central on Friday, while Spieth is off at 12:16 p.m. Central. You can watch all of Spieth’s round through the featured group coverage on U.S. Open app or website. Coverage begins on NBC’s new streaming platform “Peacock” at 5:30 a.m. and comes on the Golf Channel at 7:30 a.m. before becoming televised on NBC at 2:30 p.m..

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