Cleat Geeks

The 19th Hole: Spieth Shines

The whispers in the golf world of whether Jordan Spieth would be able to bounce back from his rough ending at the Masters last month had seemed kind of silly to begin with, even as the 22-year-old phenom struggled last week when he had a chance to win in his second tournament since his Augusta disappointment.JordanSpieth

But it didn’t take long for Spieth to bounce back, as a blistering back nine 30 punctuated by numerous big moments propelled the Texan to a three-shot, home state victory in the Dean & Deluca Invitational in Fort Worth.

Spieth saw both Harris English, plus playing partner and Fort Worth native Ryan Palmer pass him during a front nine Sunday of nine straight pars. And while it was a pro-Spieth crowd in his home area in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, he got a boost from a fan that may not have been totally on his side wile playing the 10th hole.

“Someone yelling out from the crowd, “remember the Masters, Jordan, remember the Masters,” Spieth said after the round. “Whether he was being positive or negative, I’m not sure, like remember, like get it back because of it, or remember what you did. Either way, there’s a little red-ass in me, and it came out on the next few holes.”

Did it ever. Spieth started the back nine the same way he did in Saturday’s third round – on fire. Three straight birdies at 10, 11 and 12 propelled Spieth to the lead.

After an ugly bogey on the par three 13th, Spieth struggled all the way up No. 14 and faced a 20-foot par putt. No problem, as he put it right in the middle. At 15, a two-putt par (that turned out to be his only two-putt on the entire back nine) kept Spieth tied with English. But heroics were coming.

At 16, a safe tee shot led to a 30-foot birdie putt that curled to the hole as if on radar control and dropped for birdie. Then after hitting a marshal with his tee shot and getting a good bounce off the man’s leg and flying his second shot over the green at 17, Spieth holed his chip shot for an improbable birdie. And at 18, only needing a bogey to win, Spieth holed a cross-country birdie putt from about 70 feet to finish the day in style.Ryan-Palmer_2766708

“He’s young, he’s fearless, but that confidence he’s got is high,” Palmer said of Spieth. “You can tell with his putter, it just takes one putt to go in, and that hole has got to feel like a bucket to him. You can tell how they’re pouring in. It’s fun to watch.”

English came in second at -14 for his best finish of the season, while Palmer and former U.S. Open champ Webb Simpson tied for third another shot back at -13.

 

Picks

For a second week in a row, we picked the winner. Don’t get used to this.

Spieth – It’s professional win No. 8 for Spieth, which for players age 22 and under is second only to Horton Smith’s 14. And he’s now one ahead of a guy named Tiger Woods, who only had 7 by this point in his career. 17-under, winner.

Jason Dufner – It was a pretty good week for Dufner, who was near the top all weekend but didn’t have quite enough to handle Spieth. Nether did anyone else. 9-under, tied for 6th.

Matt Kuchar – A third-round 63 boosted Kuchar into the hunt for what was ultimately yet another solid finish, his third top-10 in the last three weeks. 9-under, tied for 6th.

Robert Streb – A dismal final round cost Streb some money on his paycheck for the week. 6-over, 70th.

 

Next up

The Memorial Tournament, hosted by the great Jack Nicklaus, brings a strong field to Columbus, Ohio.

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