Spieth's resume impressive no matter what age

By Jason SobelMay 10, 2014, 12:20 am

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – The ball was flushed off the clubface, launching high into the hazy afternoon sky. It headed toward the middle of the 13th green on the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course, then gradually took a left turn halfway there. When it landed, the ball claimed a direct route toward the cup, inching closer and closer to a hole-in-one.

“By the crowd's reaction, I knew it was getting close,” Jordan Spieth would later say.

He was keeping a close eye on it the entire way, because, after all, he was the one who hit the shot. Instead of an elusive ace, though, the ball stopped four feet from the hole. It would merely be just another birdie, one of six during a second-round 6-under 66 that left Spieth one stroke off the lead midway through The Players Championship.

Which was just as well, figured one of his playing partners.

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“No point in him holing out,” surmised Graeme McDowell as they walked toward the green, “since he can’t buy the beers.”

Ah, yes. This wasn’t just another birdie during another stellar round in another title contention for Jordan Spieth. It was authored, of course, by “20-year-old Jordan Spieth” – that ubiquitous prefix seemingly accompanying him through all birdies during all stellar rounds in all title contentions.

And there have been plenty of them.

Still three months shy of his 21st birthday, Spieth owns a resume of which most players twice his age would be jealous. He’s ranked seventh in the world, already owns a PGA Tour victory and has finished in the top 20 in nine of 12 previous starts this year, including a runner-up result at last month’s Masters Tournament.

Those accolades are enough to compare with any player in the world – age notwithstanding – and yet because of his remarkable achievements before he is legally able to, say, purchase a round of drinks after a hole-in-one, the Big Two-Oh so often precedes his name.

Not that he minds it.

“Doesn't really bother me,” he said. “It was 19-year-old last year, so I'm actually curious how long it will go before they think I'm too old. But, no, it doesn't make much of a difference to me.”

If that sounds like a mature way to look at it, well, it’s for good reason. Spieth displays a maturity level well beyond his years, both on and off the course.

And it’s one he’s continuing to work on more each week.

“He can’t help himself sometimes going at pins,” said his caddie, Michael Greller. “We’ll talk about disciplined plays, but he just loves to green-light things. He’s 20.”

In the next breath, though, Greller explained how Spieth has actually dialed it back recently: “I feel like he’s playing more disciplined now, particularly starting at Augusta. In the past, we would get more greedy, and it’s kind of carried over to this week.”

Is he disappointed about having to take a more disciplined approach?

“No,” Greller said with a laugh. “But the 12-year-old Jordan would be.”

Perhaps, but the 12-year-old Jordan – and here’s that age thing again; he was 12 all the way back in 2006 – would undoubtedly be impressed at how the 20-year-old Jordan has dismantled this course so far. In two days, he’s posted 11 birdies and is just one stroke behind leader Martin Kaymer.

Even more impressive, his next bogey this week will be his first.

“I don't think it's going to be possible to stay bogey free for two more rounds with the greens firming up,” Spieth admitted. “That's a nice goal to have, I think. When bogeys come, it's going to be how I rebound.”

Again, it’s his maturity that is even more remarkable than his resiliency – as if there’s been anything from which he’s needed to show any resiliency so far.

Others are taking notice, too.

“He's just a very, very solid player, doesn't do anything wrong, hasn't made a bogey in two days,” McDowell said. “Anybody that shoots 11 under for two days is going to look pretty good, especially around here. He's a great player. I really enjoyed playing with him. He's very mature beyond his years.”

There it is again. His years. His age. Try as we might, it’s near-impossible to separate Jordan Spieth from the burden of “20-year-old Jordan Spieth.”

That shouldn’t undermine the fact that what he’s already accomplished this year – and especially so far this week – is impressive for any player, no matter when they were born.

Just ask the guy who hasn’t missed a single shot.

“Yeah,” Greller said with a smile. “Every day he impresses me.”

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Fowler (oblique) withdraws from playoff opener

By Will GrayAugust 15, 2018, 8:44 pm

The injury that slowed Rickie Fowler at last week's PGA Championship will keep him out of the first event of the PGA Tour's postseason.

Fowler was reportedly hampered by an oblique injury at Bellerive Country Club, where he started the third round two shots off the lead but faded to a tie for 12th. He confirmed the injury Tuesday in an Instagram post, adding that an MRI revealed a partial tear to his right oblique muscle.

According to Fowler, the injury also affected him at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, where he tied for 17th. After receiving the test results, he opted to withdraw from The Northern Trust next week at Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey.

"My team and I feel like it's best not to play next week in the Northern Trust," Fowler wrote. "I will be back healthy and competitive ASAP for the FedEx Cup and more than ready for the Ryder Cup!!!"

Fowler is one of eight players who earned automatic spots on the U.S. Ryder Cup team when the qualifying window closed last week. His next opportunity to tee it up would be at the 100-man Dell Technologies Championship, where Fowler won in 2015.

Fowler has 12 top-25 finishes in 18 starts, highlighted by runner-up finishes at both the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in the fall and at the Masters. He is currently 17th in the season-long points race, meaning that he's assured of starts in each of the first three playoff events regardless of performance and in good position to qualify for the 30-man Tour Championship for the fourth time in the last five years.

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Playoff streaks in jeopardy for Garcia, Haas

By Will GrayAugust 15, 2018, 8:12 pm

Since the advent of the FedExCup in 2007, only 13 players have managed to make the playoffs each and every year. But two of the PGA Tour's stalwarts head into the regular-season finale with work to do in order to remain a part of that select fraternity.

Sergio Garcia has rarely had to sweat the top-125 bubble, but the Spaniard enters this week's Wyndham Championship 131st in the current standings. Left with even more work to do is former FedExCup winner Bill Haas, who starts the week in Greensboro 150th.

Garcia got off to a strong start in the spring, sandwiching a pair of top-10 finishes in WGC events around a fourth-place showing at the Valspar Championship. But quality results largely dried up after Garcia missed the cut at the Masters; he has made only two cuts in 10 Tour starts since April, including early exits in all four majors.

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Garcia has some history at Sedgefield Country Club, having won this event in 2012 to break a lengthy U.S. victory drought. He also finished fourth in 2009 but hasn't played the Donald Ross layout since a T-29 finish as the defending champ in 2013.

It's been a difficult year for Haas both on and off the course, as the veteran was involved as a passenger in a car accident on the eve of the Genesis Open that killed the driver. He returned to action three weeks later in Tampa, and he tied for seventh at the RBC Heritage in April. But that remains his lone top-10 finish of the season. Haas has missed 11 cuts including three in a row.

While the bubble will be a fluid target this week at Sedgefield, Garcia likely needs at least a top-20 finish to move into the top 125 while Haas will likely need to finish inside the top 5.

One of the 13 playoff streaks is assured of ending next week, as Luke Donald has missed most of the year with a back injury. Other players to qualify for every Tour postseason include Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Zach Johnson, Adam Scott, Bubba Watson, Justin Rose, Brandt Snedeker, Charles Howell III, Charley Hoffman and Ryan Moore.

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Airlines lose two sets of Olesen's clubs in 10 days

By Grill Room TeamAugust 15, 2018, 7:50 pm

Commercial airlines losing the golf clubs of a professional golfer is not exactly a groundbreaking story. It happens.

But European Tour pro Thorbjorn Olesen is on quite the roll, losing two sets of clubs and five suitcases in the span of 10 days.

Olesen, the reigning Italian Open champ, claimed his primary set of golf clubs were lost last week. Having little faith they'd be found before this week's Nordea Masters, he decided to bring his backup set for the event in Sweden.

A veteran move by the 28-year-old, unless, of course, those clubs were lost too. And wouldn't you know it:

After pestering the airlines with some A+ GIFs, Olesen was reunited with at least one of his sets and was back in action on Wednesday.

He also still plans on giving his golf bag away to some lucky follower, provided it's not lost again in transit. Something he's no longer taking for granted.

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Podcast: Brandel compares Tiger and Hogan's comebacks

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 15, 2018, 6:48 pm

Tiger Woods on Sunday at Bellerive recorded his seventh runner-up finish in a major and his first in nine years.

A favorite guest of the Golf Channel Podcast, Brandel Chamblee joins host Will Gray to compare and contrast Tiger's return to competitive golf with that of Ben Hogan and Babe Didrikson Zaharias in the 1950s.

Chamblee also discusses Brooks Koepka's major dominance, Bellerive as a major venue, Tiger and Phil as Ryder Cup locks, and who else might be in line to receive Jim Furyk and Thomas Bjorn's remaining captain's picks.

Finally, Brandel shares what it was it was like to qualify for the Senior Open Championship and compete for a major title on the Old Course at St. Andrews. Listen here: