January 11, 2019 / 1:44 AM / 12 days ago

Golf-Putnam uses red hot putter to shoot 62 as Spieth cards 73

Jan 10 (Reuters) - Andrew Putnam rode a co-operative putter to a four-stroke clubhouse lead as Jordan Spieth struggled in the opening round of the Sony Open in Hawaii on Thursday.

Putnam had a dream morning on the greens, rolling in putts left, right and, most importantly, centre en route to an eight-under-par 62 at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu.

Fellow American Brandt Snedeker, a nine-times PGA Tour winner, was among a group on 66, while Spieth carded 73.

Putnam had only 23 putts, six times holing out from more than 10 feet, including three times from more than 20.

“The putter was hot,” he told PGATour.com in what might rate as the understatement of the young golf year.

“It don’t know how many feet I made of putts (nearly 200) but it was getting a little ridiculous.

“The hole was very large and the ball was going in.”

Putnam, 29, has been a consistent performer in his two-plus seasons on the PGA Tour, without making too many headlines.

The world number 67 has missed only one cut since last March and clinched his first PGA Tour victory in August at the Barracuda Championship, which uses a modified stableford system.

As well as he putted on Thursday, the rest of his game was not too shabby either.

“I had a few mistakes here and there but hit my irons great,” he said. “I left myself in pretty good spots.”

While Putnam was running in eight birdies, Spieth managed a meagre return of only one in brilliant sunshine on what passes for winter in the Pacific tropics.

The three-times major champion is seeking a return to the peak after the first disappointing season of his career, and warned on the eve of that it could take a while.

Thursday’s evidence suggested that could be the case.

“I went through a couple of different swings today,” the Texan told reporters.

“I don’t feel like I’ve been in this situation before.”

“I’m over the ball and not comfortable. It’s going to happen (at some stage of) your career.”

Spieth said he was confident he would get back to where he thinks he should be.

“I’m not worried about it... As long as I don’t let it get to me like I did last year at times.”

Remembering one of golf’s new 2019 rules was also proving a work in progress for Spieth, who on two separate occasions dropped his ball from shoulder height when taking free relief, rather than the knee height now required.

Fortunately a rules official reminded him of his error before he had played his next shot.

Had they not, it would have been a one-shot penalty. (Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Nick Mulvenney)

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