NORTON — The first time local golf fans saw Jordan Spieth here, the PGA rookie was on a tear during the last day of last year’s Deutsche Bank Championship.
Although he was not in contention going into the final round on Labor Day, Spieth impressed everyone from his playing partner (Phil Mickelson) to the rest of the field as he shot a career-low 9-under-par 62 and finished tied for fourth, five strokes behind Henrik Stenson.
That equaled the lowest final round in the 11-year history of TPC Boston (Charley Hoffman in 2010). It proved to be a statement round for the then-20-year-old native of Dallas.
He also caught the eye of Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples, who selected Spieth for the US team.
In 2013, Spieth finished at No. 7 in the FedEx Cup standings, with 18 cuts made in 23 starts.
On Friday, in this year’s opening round at TPC Boston, Spieth got off to a shaky start. He double bogeyed No. 10 but shook it off and rallied for three birdies, four pars, and finished his front nine with an eagle on No. 18.
On the back nine, Spieth was steady with eight pars and one birdie to finish at 4-under 67, four behind leader Ryan Palmer.
“I think I was asleep to start this morning, I don’t know,’’ said Spieth. “The back nine is very difficult to start on in the morning.
“When it’s a little cooler, you get some really difficult holes. Ten isn’t one of those and I made double on 10. I drove one way right into the hazard. I hit a really good shot onto the green and kind of a careless three-putt kind of woke me up.’’
Spieth, who went into the weekend at No. 9 in the FedEx Cup standings and will play in his first Ryder Cup next month, has attempted to stay more even-keeled as the season has gone along, so he was able to handle the adversity on No. 10 with a little less aggravation.
“Typically, I’d be really upset at that,’’ he said. “I’ve been trying to have a little different attitude to try to keep everything really neutral through the playoffs here.
“I feel like that’s the easiest way to gain momentum week to week, and each week is more important to me than the last, with ultimately the Ryder Cup being at the end of the stretch.”
He and his caddie, Michael Greller, put their heads together with regard to moving on from the first hole.
“I think Michael and I did a great job on 10 and 11 of really settling down and understanding how it’s 72 holes and you’re going to make mistakes here and there,’’ said Spieth.
“To go bogey-free from there on in, I’m extremely pleased. To get it in at 4 under, I know that now I’ve got a good shot at winning this golf tournament.’’
Spieth’s year started out successfully. He tied for second at the Masters, he tied for fourth at The Players Championship, and tied for 17th at the US Open. In addition, he tied for seventh in the John Deere Classic, one year after he won that event.
But then he hit a couple of speed bumps. He tied for 36th at the British Open and missed the cut at the PGA.
“The holes look smaller,’’ said Spieth. “I haven’t been making as many putts or hitting as many fairways. It was getting to me a little bit.
“I kind of had a talk with Michael and we sat back and looked at it and said, ‘Hey, I missed the cut at the PGA, other than that, I’ve played some pretty good rounds.’
“The John Deere was a top 10, the British wasn’t my best but I still had some really solid rounds in there, and I was just trying to draw back on those under-par rounds in the stretch.
“Last week, a lot of momentum on Sunday heading into here and I was able to keep it going today.’’
Spieth, who turned 21 last month, had a strong final round at last weekend’s Barclays as he followed up a pair of 70s and a 72 with a final-round 67. He finished tied for 22d at 5 under, nine shots behind winner Hunter Mahan. It definitely helped his mind-set.
“I got some momentum coming off the Barclays,’’ said Spieth. “On a difficult course, I shot 4 under out there the last round. So I started to have things come together. I saw a couple of putts go in.
“The hole looked a little bit bigger today than it has in the last month or so. I just keep on grinding away and working hard and it just gets bigger and bigger. Hopefully this is a good start to some momentum because we could sure use it the next four weeks.’’