Spieth sporting green, but he's not the Golden Child

By Doug FergusonApril 15, 2015, 2:46 pm

AUGUSTA, Ga. – The green jacket is all Jordan Spieth needs for an identity. He is the Masters champion.

It's just not going to help him get rid of a nickname he picked up late last year from a few PGA Tour players that goes against the way he was raised and irritates him more than a three-putt bogey.

Golden Child.

''It was either Colt Knost or Robert Garrigus ... I'm not sure who started with the nickname,'' Spieth said Tuesday during a break in his New York media tour. ''But it's not nice what I say to them when they say it to me. I've been working on trying to keep it quiet. And this week isn't going to help.''

It surfaced again even before he teed off in his record-setting win at Augusta National.

Brooks Koepka was talking about a Tuesday practice round in which Spieth could do no wrong. They were walking off the 13th tee when they looked over at James Hahn hitting his tee shot to the par-3 12th. As the ball was in the air, Spieth told his group, ''This is going to be a hole-in-one.'' And it was.

On the 17th, Spieth hit a shot that was an inch from rolling down to the bottom of the green. It stayed up, and he rolled in a 30-footer to close their match. If that wasn't enough, he has a game with caddie Michael Greller in which they toss a ball on the green toward the cup. Spieth made it on the first try.

Koepka finished the story, smiled and said, ''He's the golden child.''

No doubt, Spieth has done some extraordinary things for a 21-year-old.

The stories have been told countless times, yet they are no less amazing.

Spieth started his first year as a pro with no status on any tour and ended it playing alongside Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in the Presidents Cup. The first time he played with Mickelson, he closed birdie-birdie-birdie-eagle for a 62. Playing with Woods for the first time in a practice round at the Presidents Cup, he made a hole-in-one. In his Masters debut, he played in the final group at age 20.

And now a green jacket for the golden child.

''He'll be fabulous for the game,'' Graeme McDowell said.

Most appealing about Spieth is the simplicity of his life and the toughness in his game. He is 21 and old school.

Spieth has had the same swing coach since he was 12 and his father took him to see Cameron McCormick at Brook Hollow in Dallas. He uses social media instead of being consumed by it. Spieth has the same girlfriend he met in high school, Annie Verret, who graduated from Texas Tech in December and now works on fundraising projects for a youth golf program in Dallas.

He spent last week with three of his best friends from Dallas – seniors at Texas, TCU and LSU. They became what Spieth described as ''white noise'' during the evening when he wanted to take his mind off golf.

''It felt like we were back home on a random weekend,'' Spieth said. ''I couldn't partake in what they were doing. But it was fun to watch.''

His father played baseball at Lehigh. His mother played basketball at Moravian College in Pennsylvania. His younger brother, Steven, is a 6-foot-6 shooting guard at Brown. And then there's Ellie, his 14-year-old sister with neurological issues that place her on the autism spectrum. Ellie reminds Spieth and the rest of the family what matters in life.

She was at the TPC Boston last year with the whole clan, bragging about her big brothers, having a ball. Players have to take a shuttle through the woods to the eighth tee. When Spieth spotted Ellie in the gallery, he called to her. She ran to the cart and sat on his lap for the ride, and it was hard to tell who was having more fun.

Golden child? Maybe. More than a Midas touch, however, Spieth has Texas grit.

Look back at the events leading to the Masters.

  • He made three straight par saves, all that had the look of bogeys, to get into a playoff that he won at the Valspar Championship.
  • He made four straight birdies that made Jimmy Walker sweat out a victory at the Texas Open. ''I'm going to have nightmares about that guy,'' Walker said.
  • He holed a 12-foot par putt on the final hole of the Houston Open to make a playoff.

Augusta National members will talk for years about his shot from a tight lie on a knob above the 18th green on Saturday. Spieth had a seven-shot lead on the 17th tee and it was down to four shots and about to get even closer – three shots probably, two shots possibly. ''Two shots can be made up in one hole,'' Spieth said.

His caddie lobbied for a safe chip. Spieth took a full swing for a flop shot, pulled it off and made par. Spieth called it the most important shot he hit all week.

More than a golden moment, this was about guts.

It's worth remembering what Ben Crenshaw said about Spieth before teeing off in his 44th and final Masters.

''When I first met him, I tell you, I'll never forget it,'' Crenshaw said. ''I looked right at him and he looked at me, and I thought I was looking at Wyatt Earp. He just had that look about him. Just wonderful.''

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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.


Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.