Fan's Masters comment lights Spieth's fire

By Will GrayMay 29, 2016, 11:52 pm

FORT WORTH, Texas – As he made the short walk from the ninth green to the 10th tee Sunday at Colonial Country Club, Jordan Spieth walked past a throng of fans eager to get a glimpse of the day’s final group.

Many applauded. Some yelled cheers of support for any of the Dallas-Fort Worth area schools that Spieth attended as a youth.

But one fan offered a piercing statement, one that caught Spieth’s ear and stood out above the din.

“Remember the Masters, Jordan,” he said.

When the lights have been on and the crowds have been gathered, Spieth has said all the right things about his collapse at Augusta National. The bitter disappointment, he said, is a thing of the past; his future bad shots won’t be a product of the two he deposited into Rae’s Creek last month in stunning fashion.

But weeks later, the wounds are not that far beneath the surface. They can be accessed and aggravated with comments like the one Spieth heard, and they can elicit a number of possible responses.

The response Spieth chose left the rest of the field at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational in his dust.

“There was a little red-ass in me,” Spieth said, “and it came out on the next few holes.”

Dean & Deluca Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Spieth birdied each of the three holes after hearing the comment, sparking a thrilling back nine that led him to a convincing three-shot victory. It marked Spieth’s first professional win in his home state, and it’s a victory that will help keep the ghosts of Augusta National a little more at bay.

“I wasn’t sure how long it would take to get over the hurdle of having to come in to every single interview room, having to listen to crowds only talk about what happened a month ago,” Spieth said. “It’s very difficult to stay present, stay positive when that’s happening, when those are the only questions. In our third tournament back, to come back and close this one out the way we did is really, really special.”

Spieth started the day with a one-shot lead, but the opening nine at Colonial turned into more of a struggle than he expected. It took all he could muster to maintain a clean card, including a 32-foot save on No. 8, as Spieth began his round with nine straight pars to fall behind the pace set by Harris English.

But once Spieth made the turn, his all-world short game reached a new level. Spieth needed only nine putts to complete the inward half, carding six birdies including each of the last three holes: a 20-foot make on No. 16, a chip-in from behind the green at No. 17 and a 34-foot make on No. 18 to polish off a three-shot win in style.

It’s the type of finish that marks the difference between good and great, and it’s one that left those chasing him to simply shake their heads.

“He’s tough to beat. It’s kind of like what we used to see with Tiger,” said Webb Simpson, who tied for third after playing the final round alongside Spieth. “It was fun to watch.”

“You can almost laugh at it,” added playing partner Ryan Palmer. “He’s young, he’s fearless, but that confidence he’s got is high. You can tell with his putter, it just takes one putt to go in and that hole has got to feel like a bucket to him.”

Spieth’s victory means each of the top three players in the world have won tournaments over the last 15 days, following Jason Day’s victory at TPC Sawgrass and Rory McIlroy’s triumph in Ireland. It bodes well for the game, both next week when all three clash at the Memorial and this summer when a flurry of important trophies will be handed out.

But this win wasn’t about the future. It was about erasing the pain of the green jacket he left hanging on the rack.

It wasn’t just winning a tournament – it was stomping on the throat of the field and leaving no lingering doubt about his ability to close.

“I heard it a few times in the crowd today, you know, ‘Go Palmer, he’s going to do the Masters’ or whatever like that. I mean, that’s not fun to hear,” Spieth said. “Trying to throw all that out and just focus on what me and (caddie) Michael (Greller) are talking about on the next shot is the toughest thing, and we got through that at the end of the round today.”

Spieth added that perhaps the man behind the 10th tee was well-meaning. Perhaps he was offering an inspirational note that Spieth, after all, does still have a green jacket from his 2015 triumph.

But more than likely, it was the product of a fan trying to get under his skin, trying to evoke memories of a collapse that still remained in the minds of his fellow players and peers.

“Watching him kind of do what he did at the Masters, I felt really bad for him,” said English. “But I knew he would come back from it and kind of do what he did here. He’s one of the best putters in the world, and best players in the world, and I knew he was going to come back.”

Spieth will still face a different series of questions at the upcoming majors, and his scars will be picked at again every spring until he adds to his jacket collection at Augusta National.

But Sunday’s win elicited a sigh of relief from Spieth, who with trophy in hand felt liberated to speak more candidly about the true toll the Masters took on his psyche.

It also means that, next time, the voices in the crowd will have a little less ammunition at their disposal.

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McCarron closes with only bogey, shares lead

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 8:49 pm

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Scott McCarron, seeking a second senior major title to go with his 2017 Senior Players Championship, made his only bogey of the third round on the final hole to slip into a tie for the lead Saturday with Tim Petrovic in the Senior PGA Championship.

They were at 13 under par after Petrovic, seeking his first major, shot 65. McCarron has shared the lead through three rounds.

England's Paul Broadhurst, the 2016 British Senior Open winner, matched the best third-round score in tournament history with a 64. He was at 11 under.

Miguel Angel Jimenez, coming off his first major championship last week at the Regions Tradition, shot 65 and was 9 under.

Tom Byrum, who made a hole-in-one in shooting a 67, was in a group at 8 under.

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Watch: Rose one-arms approach, makes birdie

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 26, 2018, 7:25 pm

Justin Rose appears to have taken a course in Hideki Matsuyama-ing.

Already 3 under on his round through five thanks to a birdie-birdie-birdie start, Rose played this approach from 143 yards at the par-4 sixth.

That one-armed approach set up a 6-foot birdie putt he rolled in to move to 4 under on his round and 14 under for the week, five clear of the field.

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McIlroy battles back into tie for BMW PGA lead

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 26, 2018, 4:09 pm

Rory McIlroy got off to a rocky start on Saturday in the third round of the BMW PGA Championship, including hitting a spectator and making a double bogey. But after that incident on the sixth hole, he didn't drop another shot, birdieing the final hole to shoot a 1-under 71 and tie for the lead.

McIlroy had gone into Moving Day with a three-shot lead, but Francesco Molinari had the round of the day, a 6-under 66. "It was nice keep a clean scorecard," said Molinari, who hasn't made a bogey since the 10th hole on Friday.

Full-field scores from the BMW PGA Championship

McIlroy and Molinari will be paired in Sunday's final round. They are tied at 13 under par, four shots clear of Ross Fisher, Branden Grace, Sam Horsfield and Alexander Noren.

The Wentworth course ends with back-to-back par-5s, and McIlroy birdied both of them. He got a break on the 18th hole as his drive hit a spectator and bounced into light rough.

"It was a struggle out there today," McIlroy said. "I think when you're working on a few things in your swing and the wind is up and you're stuck between trying to play different shots, but also try to play - you know, make good swings at it, I just hit some loose tee balls on the first few holes. But I'm proud of myself. I stayed patient. I actually - I'm feeling a bit better about myself after today than I was even walking off the course yesterday."

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Watch: McIlroy hits spectator on hand

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 26, 2018, 2:58 pm

We never cease to wonder at how close fans crowd in to the intended line of some shots, and just how skilled Tour players are in not hitting someone.

But every once in a while, golf ball and spectator intersect, with painful results. It happened to Rory McIlroy during the third round of the BMW PGA Championship, after he had hit a wayward drive on the sixth hole. Attempting to hack out his second shot from under a bush, McIlroy struck a female spectator on her right hand. There was no official word on her condition, but she was clearly - and understandably - in pain.

McIlroy went on to make double bogey but was able to put the incident behind him, as he promptly birdied the next hole.