Punch Shot: What should Spieth do?

By Golf Channel Digital, Rex HoggardJune 30, 2015, 7:00 pm

Jordan Spieth is halfway home to the single-season Grand Slam. He is also slated to play the John Deere Classic ahead of the Open Championship. Should he keep to his plan? Should he get in some prep work at St. Andrews? Should he skip the Deere in favor of the Scottish Open? Our writers weigh in:


Blame it on Mike Davis and Robert Trent Jones Jr.

After the USGA’s executive director and the outspoken architect made it clear that Chambers Bay was a test that would need an increased level of preparation, major championships have suddenly become fortnight gatherings, with players needing the extra time to learn the intricacies of the golf course.

In this case, the pitch is St. Andrews and the Old Course for the Open Championship and the player who is enduring an exorbitant amount of armchair quarterbacking is Jordan Spieth.

With the third leg of the single-season Grand Slam hanging in the balance, Spieth will fulfill his commitment to the John Deere Classic and play the week before the British Open.

Those with short memories and narrow focus consider the move a mistake, suggesting the 21-year-old’s time would be better spent learning the nuances of the Old Course.

Lost in that assessment, however, is the fact that Spieth played the week before the Masters this year, finishing second at the Shell Houston Open before lifting the green jacket.

Tiger Woods ingrained into a generation of golf fans that less is more when it comes to scheduling, but what was best for Tiger isn’t necessarily a winning formula for everyone.


All signs point to Jordan Spieth honoring his commitment to the John Deere Classic, and that’s exactly what he should do.

At age 21, Spieth doesn’t have a lot of tournament stops that would classify as familiar, but TPC Deere Run is certainly one of them. He’s been playing in this event since 2012, and he has taken the cross-continental charter from there to the Open Championship each of the past two years. Nothing about that process will prove unusual.

What is unusual, of course, is the quest for the third leg of the Grand Slam that awaits him at St. Andrews. He will have plenty of time to get acclimated to a newfound level of scrutiny in Scotland, and he should be able to shake off the jet lag well before his first-round tee time.

Spieth has managed to bring his game from Illinois to the U.K. each of the last two years – in fact, after a playoff win in 2013, he scrambled to make the charter and still shot an opening-round 69 at Muirfield.

His week at the Old Course will be like nothing he has ever experienced. An extra few days in Scotland won’t change that, so he might as well take a familiar route to the season’s third major.


The ideal prep for the Open is to tee it up alongside Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy at the Scottish Open, but I respect the kid for honoring his commitment, as he did with a post-Masters trip to Hilton Head.

Besides, there are worse ways for Spieth to spend the final few days leading up to his bid at history. He’ll be feted like a movie star at the Deere, where he earned his first title in 2013, and it’ll only help his confidence to fill up the hole at the annual birdie-fest.

At 21, Spieth has already shown an uncanny ability to rise to the occasion in the sport’s biggest moments. I have no doubt he’ll be ready to play come Thursday at St. Andrews. 


Spieth's loyalty to his commitments is admirable. He showed up at Harbour Town the week after winning the Masters, and the Deere holds a special place in his heart after he made it his first PGA Tour victory in 2013.

That said, he'd be better served getting over to Scotland early. Nothing about TPC Deere Run is going to prepare him for St. Andrews, and Chambers Bay wasn’t exactly traditional links golf. If he wants to play the week before so his game is competitively sharp, the Scottish Open is his best bet to get acclimated to what he’ll face the week after. (Then again, he’s celebrating in the Bahamas and I’m not, so maybe he knows what he’s doing.)

Getty Images

Watch: Daly makes birdie from 18-foot-deep bunker

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 11:14 pm

John Daly on Friday somehow got up and down for birdie from the deepest bunker on the PGA Tour.

The sand to the left of the green on the 16th hole at the Stadium Course at PGA West sits 18 feet below the surface of the green.

That proved no problem for Daly, who cleared the lip three times taller than he is and then rolled in a 26-footer.

He fared just slightly better than former Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill.

Getty Images

Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

“I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

Getty Images

Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.

Made Cut

Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

September can’t get here quick enough.

Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

“I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

“My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.

Missed Cut

Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

Tweet of the week:

It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

Getty Images

Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.