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Masters champ Spieth home at Nelson, where he got 1st test

IRVING, Texas (AP) — Before he even got out of high school, Jordan Spieth had already made the cut as a teenage amateur at the Byron Nelson.

Spieth missed his high school graduation ceremony after making the cut a second time.

“Going back to each year, it’s a little more blurry. I’ve hit more shots in tournament play here,” the Masters champion said Wednesday. “It’s cool being on that 10th tee box and remembering the first shot that I ever hit in a professional tournament when I was 16.”

That was five years ago, when the Dallas player finished 16th in his first head-to-head test against some of the best players in the world.

Now playing in his “home” PGA Tour event for the first time since winning the green jacket, Spieth is the No. 2-ranked player in the world behind only Rory McIlroy. Spieth tops the tour’s FedEx Cup standings and money list ($5.7 million).

“This is one I’ve always imagined winning,” Spieth said. “It would be cool to just do it this year with the way the year has gone, just to add to the start that maybe couldn’t have ever seen this early.”

While Spieth is the favorite, Brendon Todd is the defending Nelson champion.

Todd had twice in gone back to the Web.com Tour to regain full playing privileges on the PGA Tour before winning last May. That is still his only PGA Tour win, but he does have seven more top-10 finishes since then.

“I was just trying to win every week, so to finally get one was a big stepping stone in my career and it’s been a good run since then,” Todd said. “Hopefully, we’ll get some good vibes going this week.”

A dozen players had withdrawn and been replaced in the 156-player Nelson field by Wednesday afternoon. The latest withdrawals were 2010 British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen (neck), Ian Poulter (back) and Jason Day (severe dizziness during pro-am).

After soggy Colonial last week, the PGA Tour is about 30 miles east at the saturated TPC Four Seasons course, where more than a foot of rain had fallen over a 17-day period. There was 3 1/2 inches just overnight Saturday, when heavy winds also caused debris and some damage, all which was cleaned up by Sunday evening.

The sun came out Wednesday, but there is 50-50 chance of thunderstorms each day the rest of the week.

“Not a dry spot in any fairway,” Todd said after his playing nine holes Tuesday, before more rain overnight.

“Still playable. The greens are rolling good,” said Spieth, who played in one of the first pro-am groups Wednesday. “It really is amazing that you can host a tour event after the weather that we’ve been getting the last month. It’s brutal.”

Spieth has three runner-up finishes this season, in each of the PGA Tour events played in his home state.

“Kind of funny, three runner-up finishes, all from a different way of doing it,” he said.

In between his two victories — Spieth also won the Valspar Championship a month before the Masters — he was four strokes behind fellow Texan Jimmy Walker at the Valero Texas Open, then fell in a three-man playoff at Houston.

At Colonial last week, Spieth’s 20-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole left him in a three-way tie for second place, a stroke behind Chris Kirk.

“I’d like to build on the momentum from last week, most importantly approach it like another event and get in the hunt and get in the mix, let the crowds add to the momentum and change the way that these events in Texas are going,” Spieth said. “It’s not like they’re poor events, but it would be really cool to close one out and this would be a dream come true at this event.”

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