Tony Finau claws into the lead in Charles Schwab, Anirban Lahiri in T13

Tony Finau reverted to the claw grip as he took control of the Charles Schwab Challenge. Spieth is lying in second

149
Tony Finau - PGA TOUR Image

AP on PGA TOUR, 24 May 2019: Needing good results to tide over a difficult season, Anirban Lahiri produced the perfect start to an important week with a two-under 68. The Indian produced five birdies.

In his first round at the Charles Schwab Challenge, Anirban Lahiri hit 6 of 14 fairways and 12 of 18 greens in regulation, finishing at 2 under for the tournament. Lahiri finished his day tied for 13th at 2 under; Tony Finau is in 1st at 6 under; Jordan Spieth and Roger Sloan are tied for 2nd at 5 under; and J.J. Henry, Peter Uihlein, Scott Brown, Chesson Hadley, Jonas Blixt, Nick Watney, Trey Mullinax, Jimmy Walker, and Jason Dufner are tied for 4th at 3 under.

On the par-4 12th, Lahiri’s 124 yard approach to 5 feet set himself up for the birdie on the hole. This moved Lahiri to 1 under for the round.

On the 464-yard par-4 14th hole, Lahiri reached the green in 2 and sunk a 28-foot putt for birdie. This moved Lahiri to 2 under for the round.

After a drive to the left side of the fairway on the 387-yard par-4 17th hole, Lahiri had a 134 yard approach shot, setting himself up for the birdie. This moved Lahiri to 3 under for the round.

On the 565-yard par-5 first, Lahiri got on the green in 4 and two-putt for bogey, bringing Lahiri to 2 under for the round.

At the 483-yard par-4 third, Lahiri’s tee shot went 298 yards to the right rough, his second shot went 186 yards to the right front greenside bunker, and his sand shot went 17 yards to the green where he had a two-putt for a bogey. This moved Lahiri to 1 under for the round.

At the 247-yard par-3 fourth, Lahiri hit a tee shot 244 yards at the green, setting himself up for the 15-foot putt for birdie. This moved Lahiri to 2 under for the round.

At the 481-yard par-4 fifth, Lahiri’s tee shot went 217 yards to the left rough, his second shot went 239 yards to the left side of the fairway, his third shot went 16 yards to the left greenside bunker, and his sand shot went 15 yards to the green where he had a one-putt for a bogey. This moved Lahiri to 1 under for the round. 

At the 199-yard par-3 eighth, Lahiri hit a tee shot 202 yards at the green, setting himself up for the 18-foot putt for birdie. This moved Lahiri to 2 under for the round.

If Jordan Spieth is going to end a victory drought that’s approaching two years, he picked a good place to give himself a chance.

Spieth opened with a 5-under 65 at the Charles Schwab Challenge on Thursday in his second Texas homecoming in three weeks — coming off his best finish of the season at the PGA Championship — and trailed Tony Finau by one shot. Roger Sloan joined Spieth in the tie for second.

Back when he was collecting trophies regularly three years ago, Spieth won on the cozy course made famous by Ben Hogan, and that was between a pair of second-place finishes in Fort Worth. So when it comes to feeling good about his game, Spieth’s in the right place, just a few miles from his hometown of Dallas.

But the former Texas Longhorn didn’t necessarily have to be here, a week after tying for third at the PGA for his first top 20 this season.

“I didn’t put it above or below any other week,” said Spieth, whose last victory was the 2017 Open Championship. “I know my game has been progressing. I’ve been saying that for the last month or six weeks or so. Results just end up coming when I actually start playing better golf. Simply put, that’s just what I’ve been doing.”

Defending champion Justin Rose shot 74 with four bogeys on the back nine.

J.J. Henry, who played in college for Colonial neighbor TCU, and two-time Colonial runner-up Jason Dufner were among nine at 67. Ryan Palmer had the only bogey-free round on his home course, finishing at 68 with seven others.

Spieth kick-started his round by chipping in for birdie on the par-3 13th, his fourth hole of the round. He ended up with seven birdies in a span of 10 holes, the other highlight a 46-foot putt on No. 4.

A double bogey at 18, with a second shot into the water left of the green, finished Spieth’s front nine and was the only thing between him and the lead.

 

“I think the course fits me well,” said Spieth, who tied for 29th in his hometown tournament, the Byron Nelson, two weeks ago. “It seems to have fit me well whether I’ve had form coming in or not. I know which spots to play to. I don’t try and do too much.”

Finau, who hasn’t finished higher than 60th in three tournaments since tying for fifth at the Masters, had five birdies over seven holes before closing with five straight pars. His best Colonial finish was a tie for 19th in his debut four years ago.

After changing his putting grip following a closing 79 at the PGA, Finau had four birdie putts from 19 feet or longer while hitting just three of 14 fairways. He avoided a second bogey with a chip-in on the par-3 16th.

“I didn’t know I only hit three fairways,” said Finau. “I still felt like I could hit most of the greens from wherever position I was.”

Sloan, a Canadian living in Houston who hadn’t been to Colonial before this week, had a steady round with three birdies on each side. He said his swing coach thought the layout would fit the 32-year-old’s game. He hasn’t played on Sunday in five straight tournaments, missing the initial cut in the first four.

“That’s the tendency every year for me, get off to a good start, go into a little bit of a lull,” said Sloan. “So I’m pleased that I was able to turn things around heading into the last little kick of the regular season.”

Kevin Kisner, playing with Spieth two years after edging him by a stroke to win at Colonial, shot 72.

Of the 12 players atop the leaderboard, 11 played in the morning. Conditions toughened later with temperatures reaching 90 in steady 20 mph winds.