CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Jordan Spieth made two late birdies to save a rough opening round at the PGA Championship on Thursday, where the three-time major champion said "I couldn't have putted any worse.''
Spieth, 24, who can achieve the career Grand Slam with a victory this week at Quail Hollow, shot 1-over-par 72 and trailed early leader Thorbjorn Olesen by 5 strokes.
It could have been far worse for Spieth, who had consecutive 3-putts at the fifth and sixth holes (his 14th and 15th) before he made two birdies in a row.
"If I had finished par-par-par, I might have thrown myself out of the tournament,'' Spieth said.
Instead of some motivational ploy, Spieth said it was simply a matter of being fortunate.
"Easier holes,'' he said of Nos. 7 and 8. "Two or three of the four easiest holes on the golf course, as long as you hit your tee shot in the right place. Good tee shots, which is important, but from there I hit two difficult but extremely solid shots that led to short birdies.
"I needed those from short range because it seemed like the lid was on today.''
Spieth needed 32 putts and didn't make anything outside of 6 feet. He also got up and down just two of six times. He hit 12 of 18 greens in regulation, and 10 of 14 fairways -- numbers that were completely different from those at The Open three weeks ago, when Spieth struggled to hit fairways at Royal Birkdale but seemed to hole putts from everywhere.
It was in England where Spieth made a remarkable comeback after playing the first 13 holes in 4 over par, falling behind Matt Kuchar by a shot. From there, he played the final 5 holes in 5 under par -- making a 50-footer for eagle and a 30-footer for birdie -- to win the Claret Jug.
In doing so, he set up the possibility of becoming just the sixth player to complete the career Grand Slam by winning all of the major championships -- the Masters, U.S. Open, The Open and the PGA. The last to win all four was Tiger Woods in 2000 (Woods and Jack Nicklaus won all of the majors at least three times).
"I don't think I was as free-rolling as I thought I'd be as you could probably tell based on some of my frustration,'' Spieth said.
"Historically, I'm pretty solid with the lead, so that was the goal, to grab the lead,'' he said. "It's much easier when you're on the front page of the leaderboard, instead of coming from behind. I know I'm still in it. But tomorrow's round becomes that much more important to stay in it. I've got to make up ground. If I'm 5 back at the start of the day, I need to be less than 5 back at the end of Friday to feel like I can play the way this golf course needs to be played and be able to win.''