Emphasis on putting has Spieth 18 holes from win

By Jason SobelDecember 6, 2014, 11:35 pm

WINDERMERE, Fla. – There was some poetic symmetry to Jordan Spieth’s third-round 63 on Saturday which won’t show up on any leaderboard. It actually began with the conclusion of his second round in glistening sunlight shining down upon the 18th green at Isleworth Golf & Country Club.

This was where, one day earlier, Spieth elected to stop playing rather than finish up in pitch-black darkness, the result of a mid-afternoon rain delay. His ball resting not far from the putting surface, he watched playing partner Zach Johnson complete his round, then walked off, knowing he’d be able to see better when he returned.

That return came at 10:15 a.m. and, though he didn’t know it when he’d stopped playing Friday afternoon, he had company. Steve Stricker had similarly decided to continue in the morning and so the two players finished up together.

Spieth chipped it close and made his par attempt. Stricker had a 50-foot birdie putt that he ran past the hole, then missed the par putt, too.

Not only did Spieth keep his eyes glued to Stricker’s putt, he kept it in his memory bank. Six hours later his ball was where the hole had been in the morning and the hole was where his playing partner’s ball had been. Spieth remembered the break, realized the speed and rolled in a 50-footer of his own to claim a seven-stroke lead entering the final round of the Hero World Challenge.

“I got a little feel of the speed maybe off seeing his this morning, which could have been a good break for me,” he explained. “It was actually very, very straight. Just played it pretty much in the center of the hole, maybe just outside of the right side of hole, and tried to get the right speed. I knew when it was about four feet to go that it was going to take a little left break. Put my putter up, which normally means it'll find a way to lip out, but that one fell in.”

Hero World Challenge: Articles, videos and photos

Of course, it’s difficult to consider any stroke a crucial one when so many rest between the guy in first place and everybody else.

That closing birdie was simply the cherry on top of a dominant performance, one of nine birdies on the day without a single blemish.

The end result is that the 21-year-old Texan is now in line for his third career professional victory and second in as many weeks, while the rest of the 18-man field is ready to wave the white flag.

“I don't think anybody is going to catch him tomorrow unless he's having a really bad day,” lamented Henrik Stenson, who is tied for second place. “Seems to be a one‑horse race.”

If Spieth can trace his final-hole birdie bomb to watching Stricker earlier in the day, he can trace his overall improved performance on the greens to a greater emphasis on his practice regimen prior to last week’s Australian Open title.

Unhappy with his putting at the Dunlop Phoenix one week earlier, Spieth rolled “hundreds” of putts on Tuesday and Wednesday under the watchful eye of instructor Cameron McCormick.

“He found a little something that I probably wouldn't have been able to find,” said Spieth, who has rolled in 23 birdie putts through 54 holes this week. “I've been working on it here, just tried to do that same feeling, same drills that Cameron and I worked on Tuesday and Wednesday in Australia. Yeah, I would say that we worked quite a bit more than normal last week.”

Or as his caddie, Michael Greller, put it: “Even my feet were hurting and I was just standing there.”

All of that work paid off with the win last week and is paying off again this week, as Spieth is on the verge of a rare back-to-back: Two wins on two different continents in two different hemispheres.

His continued sublime play this week can be attributed to that extra putting practice or getting enough sleep to counteract any jetlag or being comfortable on an Isleworth course where he once also lapped the field in college. Really, it’s a combination of each, but that underscores the real story here, the one major reason why Spieth is cruising past a field that contains only the best of the best in the world.

He’s really, really good. Let’s wait one more day to sound the sirens of what promises to be a very successful 2015 campaign. After all, it’s not over yet, but as one of Spieth’s closest competitors said “it’s a one-horse race” – and the guy leading is a thoroughbred.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

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Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

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