Jordan Spieth put on a short game clinic Sunday afternoon. Birdies on the final three holes allowed him to pull away and claim his first win in Texas.
Going into this weekend’s Dean & Deluca Invitational at Colonial Country Club, the eyes of the golf world were on Jordan Spieth. Some recent lackluster play and an inability to close the deal on Sundays seemed to cast a pall over his meteoric 2015 season.
Spieth seemed primed to contend during last weekend’s Byron Nelson tournament, but then proceeded to spray the ball all over the course en route to a final day 74. The result was odd, given the confidence he said he felt going into the fourth round of the tournament.
Such is golf, though. One day you don’t feel comfortable at all, but then you go out and fire the best round you’ve had in ages. The next day, you feel like you’ve had your “Aha!” moment, and dead-center fairways and pin-seeking approach shots will be your birthright. Then you’ll spend your afternoon in the water and tall grass. It’s a fickle game.
With those types of doubts creeping in, it’s hard to comprehend the level of consternation Jordan Spieth must have been feeling for the past month and change. A promising 2016 had devolved into a minor case of the yips. Everyone remembers the twelfth hole on Sunday at The Masters. Just as he seemed poised to collect his second consecutive green jacket, Spieth put two in the water and completely melted down.
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The good news was that he was contending in Augusta, Georgia and Dallas heading into those respective Sundays. The bad news is that spectacular flameouts in the clutch tend to give a guy a bad reputation. Despite the successes he has already enjoyed, bad shots and missed cuts give his critics plenty to chew on.
As unfounded and ridiculous as it is to play armchair quarterback to a golfer of Spieth’s caliber, it doesn’t mean the trolls on the internet won’t try. While he promised to handle criticisms of his game with a bit more couth, it would be hard to fault him if isn’t privately enjoying watching them eat crow today.
Going into Sunday’s final round, Spieth was facing a two-shot deficit. After an even par front nine, he opened the back nine with three consecutive birdies. He gave one back with a bogey on the thirteenth, which put him in a tie with Harris English. The momentary setback only set the stage for a dramatic, pedal-to-the-medal finish that hearkened back to the ruthless closer we saw in 2015.
After draining a twenty foot birdie putt on the sixteenth hole, Spieth overshot the green and found himself in the rough next to the seventeenth green. The dramatic chip to save birdie is one of the most iconic golf shots in recent memory. I was in the gallery at the eighteenth green, but the roar from the crowd on seventeen was clearly audible and enormous.
With a two shot lead in hand, Spieth was not done. His approach on eighteen landed about thirty-five feet from the pin. He only needed a bogey to win. All he did was pour in a gorgeous putt to score his third consecutive birdie and claim his first Colonial plaid jacket.
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The Jordan Spieth we saw on an oppressively humid May afternoon in Fort Worth was phenomenal. Even when he got himself into trouble, he was able to scramble with elegance. Pins were merely ball magnets. The finish was resounding and deadly precise. It was a virtuoso performance amounting to a belated coronation of Texas’ current favorite native son.