His tan deepened by the broiling sun, his shirt still perfectly tucked, his white slacks uncreased, his brow perspiration-free, Jordan Spieth revealed no traces of the blistering heat and erratic golf he'd endured through most of the 2018 BMW Championship's opening round Thursday.
And, somehow, neither did his score.
Wild off the tee and stuck on even-par through 13 holes, Spieth followed an "awesome up-and-down" with three birdies on Aronimink Golf Club's final four holes. While his 3-under 67 still left him five shots behind co-leaders Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, it might help save him a spot in the 30-man field for the Tour Championship, the final event in the FedEx Cup playoffs.
"The course was gettable, but I just couldn't find it with the driver through most of the round," said Spieth, who entered this third leg of the playoffs on the bubble at 27th. "But I really did a great job of staying patient and turned what could have been a couple-over round into three-under."
As the blood-red leaderboard indicated, refurbished Aronimink — with its broader fairways and larger greens, with little wind and slow putting surfaces — was a birdie paradise. And while Spieth was fighting free from roughs and sand traps, playing partners Woods (62) and Rickie Fowler (65) were racking them up.
"Obviously, Tiger and Rickie were playing well," he said. "There were roars everywhere. The biggest problem for me is when there are that many birdies in the group, it's tough not to force it. … But the second you try to force something here, there are bogeys. If you don't force anything, there aren't a lot of bogeys out there."
>> READ MORE: Tiger Woods' big day at Aronimink
Teeing off on the 10th near noon on a sweltering day, Spieth couldn't find the big fairways early. At one point, he grew so frustrated that he loudly chastised himself, "Come on, Jordan, the fairway is 70 yards wide!"
"I was just frustrated off the tee," he said. "I've struggled a lot this year with alignment. I did a good job last week holding my line but today it just fell off."
His battles continued until the 5th hole – his 14th — when he finally turned things around. After pushing his tee shot on the 159-yard hole into the right green-side rough, 82 feet from the pin, Spieth pitched to within 13 feet, then holed a twisting 13-footer to save par.
"Five was huge," Spieth said. "That was a horrible swing and an awesome up-and-down. That one certainly propelled my finish."
After that and a minor swing adjustment, he found the next four fairways, making birdie putts on Nos. 6, 7 and 9.
"I did a good job of not getting unsettled," he said. "I was frustrated because I know that if you hit the fairways, you've got a really good opportunity to make birdies. If you don't, you're essentially playing for pars. … I think it's a hard test, but I think it would be even better if the fairways were narrower."
After explaining how he stayed mentally cool, he was asked why the oppressive weather seemed to damage neither his spirits nor his look.