Spieth hopes familiar turf at CJ Cup brings better results

golf01 May 2024 22:18| © Reuters
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Jordan Spieth © Gallo Images

The PGA Tour's first visit to Texas this year may not feature local stars Scottie Scheffler or Will Zalatoris, but the CJ Cup Byron Nelson still has an intriguing line-up of players highlighted by Dallas darling Jordan Spieth.

Spieth will hope some home cooking helps him turn around a lackluster season when the tournament gets under way on Thursday in McKinney, Texas.

Spieth went 67-65-64-67 his last time at TPC Craig Ranch, the 2022 edition of the tournament, yet it wasn't enough to beat South Korea's KH Lee.

Spieth narrowly missed a chip-in on his 72nd hole that would have forced a playoff, and he settled for second.

After missing last year's event to rehab an injured wrist, Spieth is grateful to return to familiar territory.

"Got a heavy stretch of golf coming up, so looking forward to getting back out here at a familiar place with familiar faces," Spieth said.

"Obviously really enjoyed the support I've had over the years here. Hopefully going to be no different this year."

Though he is the highest-ranked player in the field (No 20 in the Official World Golf Ranking), Spieth has missed three of his last five cuts after a few top-10s early in the year.

That won't mute any cheers for the local favourite. Spieth is the headliner while fellow Dallas-area natives Scheffler and Zalatoris took the week off.


Scheffler's wife is expecting their first child, and Zalatoris withdrew Tuesday due to his balky back flaring up.

"For the tournament, it's unlucky to have that be the case because they're both tremendous players and big names and local guys ... I love competing against them," said Spieth, who will make his 12th career Byron Nelson start.

"I would love to win this event. It would mean more to me than most events."

Australia's Jason Day is the defending champion after shooting a 9-under 62 in his final round last year to beat Austin Eckroat and South Korea's Si Woo Kim by a stroke. It was the major champ's first win of any kind in five years.

"Five years is a long time between wins. Little too long if you ask me," Day said. "... Once the week happened, it was nice to be able to get that win after five years, but my mindset was pretty much quickly on to the next tournament."

TPC Craig Ranch has produced ultra-low scores in its first three years hosting the tournament. Lee went 25 under and a tournament-record 26 under to win back-to-back in 2021 and 2022; Day finished 23 under.

The field includes several of South Korea's best players, including Tom Kim, Sungjae Im, Byeong Hun An and Si Woo Kim, who resides in Dallas.

Another local favourite this week will be Hayden Springer, who graduated from nearby Byron Nelson High School in 2015 and grinded his way to a PGA Tour card last year.

"He's obviously a big name in golf, you know, historically one of the best," Springer said.

"And then going to Byron Nelson High School and kind of getting to have that legacy carry over to my high school team. ... It's kind of a cool story to have played at Byron Nelson High School and now to be playing in this event."