AKRON, Ohio – In his first start since winning The Open, Jordan Spieth managed to pull off a minor miracle by one-upping his iconic performance from Royal Birkdale. At least, for one shot.
Spieth appeared stymied behind a tree after missing the eighth fairway during the opening round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but he eyed a small gap in the overhanging foliage. The plan was simple: hoist a pitching wedge through the tiny window about 60 yards in front of him and cut it back toward the putting surface.
OK, so maybe not simple. In fact, in the heat of the moment Spieth turned to caddie Michael Greller and admitted, “I’m going to try something stupid right here.”
The result turned into what Spieth called one of the best shots he’s ever played.
“I was shocked I pulled it off,” Spieth said.
Spieth explained that Greller thought about using one of his “vetoes” to talk his player off the shot, but decided that their first competitive round since a major win deserved a little leeway. As it turns out, Spieth’s memorable call to Greller of “go get that” after his eagle on No. 15 at Birkdale now has a distant relative.
“I told him to put the bag over there and just watch,” Spieth said.
Just as he drew it up, Spieth carved his wedge through a seemingly invisible gap in the branches and grinned to Greller as the ball landed near the hole and rolled 20 feet past.
“I just smiled. He goes, ‘That was cool,’” Spieth said. “I thought as long as I got the height, I could pull off the shot.”
Thanks in part to his escape from the trees, Spieth opened with a 3-under 67 at Firestone Country Club. It left him two shots behind leader Thomas Pieters and included a pair of 50-foot birdie bombs on Nos. 5 and 6, proving that he didn’t leave all of his putting magic behind in England.
“The one on 6 was surprising. I thought I hit it too hard when I hit it. I was like, ‘Oh, boy. Sit down,’” Spieth said. “But on the hole before, it’s actually a pretty makeable putt there. You’re outside right a couple feet, you assume that if you start anywhere within a cup with decent speed, it’s going to get close or scare it.”