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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 15 November 2018

Frustration for Jordan Spieth as late mistakes undo promising start to British Open title defence

American dropped four shots in the last four holes in the opening round at Carnoustie

Jordan Spieth struggled at the end of his first round at the British Open but is confident he can climb back into contention. Paul Childs / Reuters
Jordan Spieth struggled at the end of his first round at the British Open but is confident he can climb back into contention. Paul Childs / Reuters

Defending British Open champion Jordan Spieth described his opening round at Carnoustie on Thursday as a "missed opportunity".

Spieth, who won the 2017 Open in thrilling fashion at Royal Birkdale, began his title defence in impressive fashion with two birdies after the first four holes.

The American was then three-under after 11 holes to contend with the top of the leaderboard. However, a double bogey on 15 was followed by dropped shots on 16 and 18 as Spieth signed for a one-over par 72.

“It felt like a missed opportunity,” Spieth, 24, said. “I felt like I was really going well.

“I had a nice par save after driving it in the bunker at six but other than that, it was very stress-free.

“I was putting the ball where I needed to, having maybe no more than fewer feet for par on every hole. It was just a clean round of golf.

“I hit my driver really well and hit my short irons and putted pretty well but those long irons just didn't quite hold up, and it really hurt me. However, I know what I need to work on.

“My swing just didn't quite hold up to the end of my round and my decision making cost me too.”

Despite the opening round frustrations, Spieth is confident he can recover and get back into contention.

“I'm certainly in a recoverable situation,” the three-time major winner said. “I imagine this is as easy as the course will play.

"I don't see the winning score being any better than it was in 2007, with tomorrow's forecasted tough conditions and Sunday's forecasted heavy winds. I think wherever it is Saturday night, it comes back on Sunday too.

“It’s not a bad place to be. I need a solid round tomorrow to stay in the top 25. The top 20 will be the goal to feel like I can do something on the weekend."

Spieth is joined at one-over by former US Open and Olympic champion Justin Rose, two-time Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship winner Tommy Fleetwood, and 2010 Open champion Louis Oosthuizen.

Spieth's compatriot Rickie Fowler fared slightly better during his opening round, carding a one-under par 69.

“You can't win on the first day but I did a good job of getting off to a solid start,” Fowler, 29, said. “I love playing links golf and it's definitely my favourite style of golf.

“It's fun seeing a place as burnt out and fast as this, tee to green. The harder you hit it, the further it can go offline and you definitely have to pick those wisely.”

Among the players level with Fowler heading into Friday's second round is 2016 Open champion Henrik Stenson, who won the Claret Jug in record-breaking fashion at Royal Troon.