Spieth arrives at Open amid whirlwind after Deere win

By Ryan LavnerJuly 16, 2013, 2:11 pm

GULLANE, Scotland – The past few weeks have been such a whirlwind for Jordan Spieth, he arrived at Muirfield on Tuesday wearing a pair of unwashed pants. Oh, these weren’t just any gray slacks. They were the ones he wore Sunday at the John Deere Classic, the site of his life-changing victory.

“These were the furthest away from the really dirty clothes,” he said, smiling.

The victory was significant in many ways for Spieth, who doesn’t turn 20 until later this month. The two-year exemption. The $828,000 paycheck. A Masters berth. The boatload of FedEx Cup points. More immediately, however, it meant a spot in this week’s British Open, where he will make his third career major start.

Tuesday was Spieth’s first day on-site at Muirfield, and his legs were still so weary that he could manage only nine holes of practice. After taking the private charter from Illinois to Edinburgh – arriving at 10:30 a.m. local time Monday, Spieth scarfed down lunch, crashed for a few hours, ate dinner, walked around town for a bit and went to sleep.

142nd Open Championship: Articles, videos and photos

His clothes were another issue.

During this most recent stretch, Spieth packed only for the AT&T National. That was three weeks ago. His sixth-place finish at Congressional got him into The Greenbrier, where he tied for 23rd, and he already had a sponsor exemption into the John Deere Classic. All warm-weather climes.

So, yes, his wardrobe was a bit limited, and that’s usually problematic in these parts, where the weather can change in an instant. (Remember the third round here in ’02?) An official from Under Armour is arriving soon to bring some new threads, and, fortunately, the rental house Spieth is moving into Tuesday night is equipped with a washing machine.

That he was still wearing his winning pants Tuesday proved fitting, however, since all anyone wanted to do was talk about the teen phenom’s finish at TPC Deere Run, where he became the youngest PGA Tour winner since 1931.

Spieth was six shots back to begin the final round, needing a win (and only a win) to earn an Open berth and receive all of the perks of full membership. Late on the back nine, though, he was simply thinking about making two more birdies to post another top-10 finish. Instead, he reeled off five birdies in the last six holes, including a hole-out from the bunker on the 72nd hole in regulation, and watched in amazement as the leading score remained at 19 under – the same as it was at the start of the day. An hour later, Spieth made a few 7-footers to extend the playoff, and he prevailed on the fifth extra hole.

In the dizzying aftermath, Spieth called his parents, had his picture taken in the bunker short of the 18th green, fulfilled his media obligations, showered and then raced to the airport, where the charter flight was delayed 45 minutes because of the playoff.

And then, when he finally had a moment to reflect, all he could think about was how 19 under won that tournament. “I caught the right breaks and other guys got unlucky,” he said.

If he wasn’t in this week’s Open, Spieth would have been back home in his Austin, Texas, condo, getting away from golf for a few weeks, resuming his workout routine, catching up with his swing coach, Cameron McCormick.

Instead, he’s preparing for the 142nd British Open, at a site he has never seen before. He couldn’t even do any last-minute research – the Internet on his cellphone doesn’t work.

No matter. Spieth has obviously proved a quick learner, authoring one of the stories of the season and generating more buzz than any young American golfer in recent memory. This season he has six top 10s, a win and more than $2 million in earnings, which is even more impressive when you consider that he didn’t have any status anywhere after turning pro last December.

“I think he’s one of our really good young stars that we have coming up,” Phil Mickelson said. “Obviously he’s played like that. But he is more than that. He’s enjoyable to be around. He’s got charisma; people are drawn to him. He’s going to be a real asset to the Tour.”

Fatigue may be the only thing that keeps Spieth out of contention here. 

With his low ball flight and imaginative short game, Spieth said he enjoys the challenge of links golf, which is not always the case for young players. (See McIlroy, Rory.) His most notable experience came at the 2011 Walker Cup, where he went 2-0-1 in a U.S. loss, and he’s also played at St. Andrews and Kingsbarns.

“This is the tournament that I watch every year,” he said. “You see it’s miserable, and you’re sitting on the couch. It’s like life is good, look at these guys.”

Spieth is one of those guys now, a fact reinforced by his presence here on one of the game’s biggest stages. When he walked onto the range Tuesday, he was greeted by Rory McIlroy, Rickie FowlerIan Poulter and Mickelson. They all offered kind words for his performance at the Deere.

Heck, even Tiger Woods took notice.

“I think it’s fantastic for him,” he said. “Being 19 years old and having an opportunity to not only have a chance to win his first tournament, but the way he did it and went out there in the playoff and got it done. It’s a pretty fantastic accomplishment.”

Spieth’s game may be all grown up – he is now the 59th-ranked player in the world – but he still shows a likeable naiveté. Basking in another unseasonably warm day at Muirfield, he said, “It’s a cool life, traveling out here, getting to play the best golf courses. You don’t have to pay to play the golf courses. You get paid to play. It’s not work.”

Apparently, the same can’t be said for finding clean clothes.

Watch: Fleetwood gets emotional with family after Race to Dubai win

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 19, 2017, 5:30 pm

Tommy Fleetwood took home the season-long Race to Dubai title on Sunday after a T-21 finish at the DP World Tour Championship.

He was, understandably, emotional after learning his fate while sitting with his wife and baby following a career year in which he won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship and the French Open and finished fourth at the U.S. Open.

Luckily for us, cameras were rolling:

Matsuyama after Koepka rout: 'Huge gap between us'

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 4:22 pm

Hideki Matsuyama offered a blunt assessment after finishing 10 shots behind Brooks Koepka at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix event.

Koepka waxed the field en route to successfully defending his title in Japan, shooting a 20-under par total that left him nine shots clear of a runner-up group that included PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele. Koepka's score was one shot off the tournament record, and his margin for victory eclipsed Tiger Woods' eight-shot romp in 2004.

Matsuyama appeared set to make a final-round charge after a birdie on No. 2 was followed by an ace on the par-3 third hole. But he played the next eight holes in 3 over and eventually finished alone in fifth place following a 2-under 69. Afterwards, he stacked his game up against that of Koepka in a telling comment to the Japan Times.

"I feel there's a huge gap between us," Matsuyama said.

The Japanese phenom entered the week ranked No. 4 in the world, though he will be passed in the next rankings by Jon Rahm following the Spaniard's win in Dubai. Matsuyama won twice this year on the PGA Tour, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but he has largely struggled since missing out on a maiden major title at the PGA Championship, where he tied for fifth.

Matsuyama was a runner-up to Koepka at the U.S. Open earlier this summer, and the 25-year-old seems headed back to the drawing board before defending his title at the Hero World Challenge in two weeks.

"I don't know whether it's a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well," Matsuyama said. "It seems there are many issues to address."

McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.

Rahm wins finale, Fleetwood takes Race to Dubai

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 1:42 pm

Jon Rahm captured the final tournament on the European Tour calendar, a result that helped Tommy Fleetwood take home the season-long Race to Dubai title.

Rahm shot a final-round 67 to finish two shots clear of Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Shane Lowry at the DP World Tour Championship. It's the second European Tour win of the year for the Spaniard, who also captured the Irish Open and won on the PGA Tour in January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

"I could not be more proud of what I've done this week," Rahm told reporters. "Having the weekend that I've had, actually shooting 12 under on the last 36 holes, bogey-free round today, it's really special."

But the key finish came from Justin Rose, who held the 54-hole lead in Dubai but dropped back into a tie for fourth after closing with a 70. Rose entered the week as one of only three players who could win the Race to Dubai, along with Sergio Garcia and Fleetwood, who started with a lead of around 250,000 Euros.

DP World Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the DP World Tour Championship

With Fleetwood in the middle of the tournament pack, ultimately tying for 21st after a final-round 74, the door was open for Rose to capture the title thanks to a late charge despite playing in half the events that Fleetwood did. Rose captured both the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open, and was one round away from a two-trophy photo shoot in Dubai.

Instead, his T-4 finish meant he came up just short, as Fleetwood won the season-long race by 58,821 Euros.

The title caps a remarkable season for Fleetwood, who won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship as well as the French Open to go along with a pair of runner-up finishes and a fourth-place showing at the U.S. Open.

"I find it amazing, the season starts in November, December and you get to here and you're watching the last shot of the season to decide who wins the Race to Dubai," Fleetwood said at the trophy ceremony. "But yeah, very special and something we didn't really aim for at the start of the year, but it's happened."