Everyone can relax now, or at least those who wanted to write off Jordan Spieth after his collapse at the Masters and performance in his last few starts — no need to fret because the two-time major champion is back in the winner’s circle. Heading into the final round at Colonial with a one-shot lead, Spieth actually found himself trailing by two after failing to convert for birdies on the front nine and posting nine straight pars.
However, he kept himself in striking distance with several key up-and-downs, especially on no. 8, where he holed a 32-footer to save par.
“I didn’t put a good swing on the first shot, and then I drew a really tough lie there and then I just (decelerated) a little bit,” said Spieth. “I didn’t want to chip it over and off the other side. It’s not a great position to be in. I hit the putt about a cup outside left. At that point I’m just trying to get the right speed and two-putt. It’s a tough putt to two-putt. (It was) nice for that to obviously drop.”
But then Spieth kicked into another gear en route to a three-shot win over Harris English at the Dean & Deluca Invitational (or just “the Colonial”). You know which one. The kind where he puts on a short game clinic and makes clutch putts from everywhere and anywhere — he only needed nine putts on the back nine. Yeah, that’s right, nine! He put the pedal to the metal once he made the turn, rolling off three straight birdies.
Spieth, then, made his lone bogey of the day on no. 13, but it could have been worse as he bladed his bunker shot on the par-3 over the green. He had a huge par save on no. 14, draining a 14-footer that just fell into the right edge of the cup.
Tied with Harris English at 14-under through 15 holes, Spieth finished like a champion, doing Spieth-like things. He rolled in a curling 20-foot birdie putt on no. 16 to take the lead.
Then, he had an adventurous 17th hole, where his drive hit the leg of a marshal, and his second shot ricocheted off the grandstands behind the green. He took a drop and naturally, chipped-in from there to extend his lead to two.
“I was very fortunate that the grandstands were there because I was able to get a drop, and the nearest point there was no closer to the hole happened to be below the hole versus having to go over to the right,” explained Spieth. “So I got a good drop, just fortunate that it ended up back where it was. It went to a decent lie where I didn’t have to try and play an explosion. I didn’t have to do too much. That’s still a really tough touch shot to hit when there’s that much pressure on. It’s tough to control your hands and control the club face the way that you would when you’re just practicing it.
“There’s no way to practice for that kind of pressure, but it came out a little knuckler that landed on the fringe, and it was lucky for it to go in, obviously, but I was very pleased with the way I struck it. 17 was one of the luckiest holes I’ve ever had personally. I hit a guy on the side on the tee ball that goes into the first cut, and then I get that drop and then chip in.
“If I’m anyone playing against me, I’d be pretty upset at that.”
To add some extra zest to the impressive victory, Spieth holed a 34-footer for birdie on no. 18 to finish the back nine at five-under 30 and a final-round 65.
The Dallas native clinched his first win in his home state of Texas. Previously, he finished runner-up at Colonial (2015), Valero Texas Open (2015) and Shell Houston Open (2015). With the win, Spieth joins three-time winner Jason Day and two-time winner Adam Scott as the only multiple winners on Tour this season. Spieth won the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, the first tournament of the year. More important, he surpasses Tiger Woods (7) with most victories on Tour before the age of 23 with eight, and now trails only Horton Smith (14).
But the most significant part to Spieth’s win was answering the skeptics, who thought he wouldn’t recover from his disappointing Masters finish, where he lost after having a five-stroke lead with nine to play. Let’s be real, we knew Spieth would be fine. At least I did. Anyone who didn’t doesn’t know the grit and guts with which Spieth plays and competes.
The crowd at Colonial on Sunday wasn’t always friendly, though, and Spieth showed mental fortitude by shutting out the noise.
“Someone (yelled) out from the crowd (on 10), ‘Remember the Masters, Jordan, remember the Masters,’ he recalled. “Whether he was being positive or negative, I’m not sure, like remember, like get it back because of it, or remember what you did. Either way, there’s a little red-ass in me, and it came out on the next few holes…
“I heard it a few times in the crowd today, you know, ‘Go Palmer, he’s going to do the Masters.’ I mean, that’s not fun to hear. It’s motivating at the time because you want to get back on top, but you can’t be too aggressive. You’ve got to stick to your game plan. So trying to throw all that out and just focus on what me and Michael are talking about on the next shot is the toughest thing, and we got through that at the end of the round today.”
Now, here’s the best stat of all: The top three players in the world, Jason Day, Spieth and Rory McIlroy, are each coming off a win and playing in next week’s Memorial Tournament. Please put them in the same pairing for Thursday and Friday. Please. Give the people what they want!
“I had been told before last week that had I won last week and this week, I still wouldn’t take over, which just speaks to what Jason has been able to do,” said Spieth. “Rory’s rounding into form, he’s always in form, and he’s the one out of us three with double my major championships, with four of them. He’s certainly a scary person to be teeing up on the other side of when he’s on his game. Same with Jason.”