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:

By REX HOGGARD

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.



By WILL GRAY

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.


By RYAN LAVNER

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. 


By NICK MENTA

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

Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88

By Associated PressJune 20, 2018, 1:35 am

MELBOURNE, Australia – Five-time Open Championship winner Peter Thomson has died, his family said Wednesday. He was 88.

Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members on Wednesday morning.

Born on Aug, 23, 1929, Thomson was two months short of his 89th birthday.

The first Australian to win The Open Championship, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by Tom Watson.

On the American senior circuit he won nine times in 1985.

Thomson also served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years, designing and building courses in Australia and around the world, helping establish the Asian Tour and working behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.

He also wrote for newspapers and magazines for more than 60 years and was patron of the Australian Golf Writers Association.

In 1979 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service.

Thomson is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements were to be announced over the next few days.

Getty Images

Gaston leaves USC to become head coach at Texas A&M

By Ryan LavnerJune 19, 2018, 11:00 pm

In a major shakeup in the women’s college golf world, USC coach Andrea Gaston has accepted an offer to become the new head coach at Texas A&M.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Gaston, who informed her players of her decision Monday night, has been one of the most successful coaches over the past two decades, leading the Trojans to three NCAA titles and producing five NCAA individual champions during her 22-year reign. They have finished in the top 5 at nationals in an NCAA-record 13 consecutive seasons.

This year was arguably Gaston’s most impressive coaching job. She returned last fall after undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, but a promising season was seemingly derailed after losing two stars to the pro ranks at the halfway point. Instead, she guided a team with four freshmen and a sophomore to the third seed in stroke play and a NCAA semifinals appearance. Of the four years that match play has been used in the women’s game, USC has advanced to the semifinals three times.  

Texas A&M could use a coach with Gaston’s track record.

Last month the Aggies fired coach Trelle McCombs after 11 seasons following a third consecutive NCAA regional exit. A&M had won conference titles as recently as 2010 (Big 10) and 2015 (SEC), but this year the team finished 13th at SECs.

The head-coaching job at Southern Cal is one of the most sought-after in the country and will have no shortage of outside interest. If the Trojans look to promote internally, men’s assistant Justin Silverstein spent four years under Gaston and helped the team win the 2013 NCAA title.  

Getty Images

Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout

By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 9:44 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – It was perhaps the most-replayed shot (and celebration) of the year.

Jordan Spieth’s bunker holeout to win the Travelers Championship last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger nearly broke the Internet, as fans relived that raucous chest bump between Spieth and caddie Michael Greller after Spieth threw his wedge and Greller threw his rake.

Back in Connecticut to defend his title, Spieth admitted that he has watched replays of the scene dozens of times – even if, in the heat of the moment, he wasn’t exactly choreographing every move.


Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


“Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”

Spieth and Greller’s celebration was so memorable that tournament officials later shipped the rake to Greller as a keepsake. It’s a memory that still draws a smile from the defending champ, whose split-second decision to go for a chest bump over another form of celebration provided an appropriate cap to a high-energy sequence of events.

“There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives,” Spieth said. “I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”

Getty Images

Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break

By Randall MellJune 19, 2018, 9:27 pm

Stacy Lewis will be looking to make the most of her last three starts of 2018 in her annual return to her collegiate roots this week.

Lewis, due to give birth to her first child on Nov. 3, will tee it up in Friday’s start to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She won the NCAA individual women’s national title in 2007 while playing at the University of Arkansas. She is planning to play the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week and then the Marathon Classic two weeks after that before taking the rest of the year off to get ready for her baby’s arrival.

Lewis, 33, said she is beginning to feel the effects of being with child.

“Things have definitely gotten harder, I would say, over the last week or so, the heat of the summer and all that,” Lewis said Tuesday. “I'm actually excited. I'm looking forward to the break and being able to decorate the baby's room and do all that kind of stuff and to be a mom - just super excited.”

Lewis says she is managing her energy levels, but she is eager to compete.

“Taking a few more naps and resting a little bit more,” she said. “Other than that, the game's been pretty good.”

Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2014, and she was credited with an unofficial title in ’07, while still a senior at Arkansas. That event was reduced to 18 holes because of multiple rain delays. Lewis is a popular alumni still actively involved with the university.