WINDERMERE, Fla. – Jordan Spieth and Patrick Rodgers reunited on the golf course Sunday for the first time since the duo rallied to halve a foursomes match at the Walker Cup in September.
Spieth, a freshman at Texas, and Rodgers, a freshman at Stanford, were paired together during the first round of the three-day Isleworth Collegiate Invitational at Isleworth Golf and Country Club.
“It was different being on the other side of the ball,” said Spieth, who shot an Isleworth tournament course-record 7-under 65 to take an early four-shot lead.
“I grew up playing with Pat, and we’ve been battling it out since we were who-knows-how-young. We roomed together at the Walker Cup. It’s easy to be comfortable playing with someone you know, and we were able to feed off each other.”
Said Rodgers, who shot 70 and is tied for fifth: “We’ve become really good friends since the Walker Cup. We were out there just having a good time.”
Spieth didn’t record a bogey on the round and tied a record held by touring professionals Nick O’Hern and Oliver Wilson. O’Hern accomplished the feat at the 2010 Tavistock Cup, and Wilson equaled the mark at this year’s Tavistock.
Texas, the No. 1-ranked team in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, holds a nine-shot lead entering Monday’s second round in the 54-hole event. The Longhorns, who finished ninth in the tournament last year, sit at 10 under. North Florida is second at 1 under.
“Any time you shoot under par at Isleworth, you’ve done something well,” Texas head coach John Fields said.
After going 1 under through the first six holes, Spieth found trouble on the par-5, 573-yard seventh hole. He hit his second shot into a greenside bunker and then chunked his third shot into another bunker.
But Spieth recovered to save par on a hole that was the day’s easiest.
“That was the key point in my round,” Spieth said. “It didn’t really cross my mind that I could hit it that fat. But I did and left it in the bunker, and then I was left with about a 30-yard bunker shot to try and save par on a hole that most the people in the field are birdieing.”
Spieth closed the front nine with two birdies to make the turn at 3 under – one stroke ahead of Rodgers.
The momentum continued to build on No. 13, a 558-yard par 5. Spieth found himself hitting his third shot from about 15 yards out.
“It was just one of those shots where the pin is in front of the green and you want to land it on the front and leave it a few feet past the hole,” Spieth said. “It ended up hitting the pin and dropping.”
The eagle moved Spieth to 5 under, and he would end the back nine the same way he did the front, with two birdies to close out a record day.
“I didn’t even know about the record,” Spieth said. “But, honestly, I’m just happy the team is playing well. To shoot 10 under at Isleworth, that’s incredible.”
Spieth, a two-time U.S. Junior champion from Dallas, entered the tournament with a second-place finish at the Jack Nicklaus Invitational and a sixth-place effort at the Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate.
Texas won both tournaments after opening the season with a fifth-place finish at the Olympia Fields Invitational, in which Spieth did not play.
“He’s had a big impact on our team,” Fields said. “We had good players on our golf team coming into the season. But when you add Jordan, you add a lot of intangibles, attitude and desire. It’s inside our team, there’s no question, but he’s helped bring it right on top of the table.”
No. 5 Alabama, the defending tournament champion, is tied with No. 2 Stanford for third at 3-over 291. The Crimson Tide were led by Justin Thomas, who had six birdies and an eagle en route to a 3-under 69.
Thomas is tied with North Florida’s Sean Dale and Stanford’s Andrew Yun for second. Joining Rodgers at 2 under are California’s Brandon Hagy, Florida’s J.D. Tomlinson, and Julio Vegas and Toni Hakula of Texas.
Dylan Frittelli, ranked No. 1 in the Golfweek/Sagarin individual rankings, notched the Longhorns’ fourth score, a 1-over 73.
“You really have to stay focused on a golf course like this,” Rodgers said. “Any bad swing or any mental lapse can lead to a mistake.”