Spieth has Sunday edge after clawing way back

By Ryan LavnerApril 9, 2017, 12:33 am

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Jordan Spieth has adopted a new mentality this week, ever since he took a 9, ever since he hovered near the cut line, ever since his redemption tour was briefly suspended.

Swing freely. Play confidently. Keep grinding.

And not give a – well, you know – about anything else.

“It’s win or go home,” he said. “So if you pull off the shots and you make the putts, then I want to give myself a chance for that to be enough. And if I don’t, then so be it.

“Finishing fifth versus 10th doesn’t mean much to me. So that frees me up a bit tomorrow.”

When he entered the media building Saturday evening, Spieth stared intently at the leaderboard.

He was two shots back.

Tied for fourth.

Spieth never changed his expression, but he could have been excused for a double take.

For the first time in his career, Spieth won’t take at least a share of the lead into Masters Sunday – and yet he’s feeling just as dangerous.

The master of the Masters was left for dead after he took a quadruple-bogey 9 on his 15th hole of the tournament. At the end of Day 1, he was 10 shots off the lead. Midway through Day 2, with Charley Hoffman pulling away, Spieth was in danger of being sent packing.

But he never panicked, because around here, with his level of comfort, it’s a waste of energy. He came home in 33, including birdies on Nos. 16 and 18, and practically floated into the scoring center.

“It gave me that chance,” he said. “I went to bed with my heart pumping faster last night.”

And then he played with renewed purpose on Saturday, ending his front nine with three birdies in a four-hole span. His lethal short game took over from there, with nifty par saves on the 10th and 12th holes, and then one of the boldest shots of his young career, into the par-5 13th.

Masters Tournament: Scores | Live blog: Day 3 | Full coverage

With Spieth’s ball on a sidehill lie in the pine straw, and with 228 yards to the well-guarded green, his caddie, Michael Greller, pushed for a layup.

“What would Arnie do?” Spieth asked, and they both knew the answer. He ripped a 4-iron into the middle of the green, leading to a two-putt birdie. He shot 68.

From out of the tournament to another chance at a green jacket, all in 27 holes.

“After the first round,” he said, “I couldn’t ask for much better than this.”

If Spieth truly strikes fear into the rest of the field, we’ll find out Sunday. He’s right there, again, the continuation of a historic four-year run of excellence here. 

Of the 15 rounds he’s played, he’s been in the top 5 after 12 of them.

His career record is 2-1-2. Adding to that tally Sunday, with either a win or a runner-up, would match Jack Nicklaus (1963-66).

“We have a great history here,” said Spieth, in the understatement of the day, but his dominance isn’t as easy to quantify. He cracked that, unlike in the early 2000s, there is no way for Augusta to “Jordan-proof” this place. He doesn’t overpower the course. He’s not always down the center stripe of each fairway. He’ll occasionally hit some errant approaches. But his short game is magical. And he never quits. Never believes he’s out of it.

“Jordan Spieth is a huge threat to this tournament," Adam Scott said. 

“He’s got a great golfing brain,” said Justin Rose, who is tied with Sergio Garcia at 6-under 210. “This is a very strategic golf course, and you have to make good, smart decisions out there. It tempts you at times. It can dangle the carrot. You need to be on top of your thinking, and he’s very good at that.”

Rose and Garcia may have 31 Masters appearances between them, but they never have experienced the suffocating pressure of holding a lead and turning toward the back nine.

In that respect, Spieth holds a massive edge.

Three years ago, he eased off the gas and got lapped by Bubba Watson.

Two years ago, he stiff-armed the field during a historic romp.

And last year, well, last year he endured the biggest collapse in tournament history, going from five ahead to three behind in less than an hour.  

Important lessons, all of them.

“I know that anything can happen,” he said with a wry smile.

Indeed, the question that hovered over Spieth as this Masters approached – will the back nine haunt him forever? – now gives him confidence as the pursuer.

“I’ve been on both sides of it now,” he said, “and I like the winning side better. So I’m certainly going to go for broke.”

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. 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.

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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 Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. 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. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

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.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

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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