Jordan Spieth really had one of those days on Friday. As he put it, he got off to a great start, chipping in at the 10th hole which was his first of the day. He got his score to 3-under par, which gave him a reasonable chance if he could hold it for the weekend.
Then disaster struck, followed a few holes later by a miracle. That, of course, is how Spieth got the name “Golden Child.” This kind of stuff happens to him all the time.
“Most every hole kind of hit it in the wrong spot,” Spieth said, and it was easy to see he was depressed about it. “It got really challenging, but I didn't help myself with some of the decisions I was making.”
Shortly after making the turn, everything really cratered. He couldn’t find the fairway and seemed to have a two-way miss.
As anyone who’s ever played the TPC Stadium Golf course at Sawgrass knows, the rough is nobody’s friend. It’s an easy way to cost yourself shots, multiple shots even. It cost Spieth one shot at the pretty little par three 13th and gave him an untimely double at the 14th. That’s where he hit his drive to “landscaping.”
(“Landscaping” is what Shotlink calls it when you are basically off the normal parts of the course. He got a penalty shot.)
Spieth scraped it around for the next four holes, turning at even par. At the 18th, he had hit what he called a nice wedge and thought things were improving. He couldn’t have been more wrong as he approached the final nine holes of the day.
“I bogeyed No. 2 today when I had an iron into the green. All of a sudden that just got rid of one of my good opportunities (for birdie). Now I've got a few hard holes in a row, and you've got maybe No. 6, maybe No. 9 left,” he said.
Things got worse at the 5th where he found the water off the tee. That pond always seems out of play from the gallery side of the hole, but clearly it wasn’t. It caused him to make double bogey.
Unfortunately, he had gone from 5-under to 1-over par by the 5th hole.
“The way I've been playing, pretty disappointing to not hold it at 3- or 4- or 5-under and feel like I'm in the thick of things, but if the wind stays up, I don't think the lead goes up too much,” he said after the round.
When he bogeyed the par three 8th, he went to 2-over par, and it looked at that point like he would miss the cut on the weekend of the biggest tournament of the year.
Then came the Miracle at the 9th.
Spieth’s tee ball went a bit too far right. He was – once again -- in the rough and not expecting any gifts at that point.
He hit his second shot.
“My left foot grabbed as I was transitioning, like pain, and I backed off and I thinned one,” Spieth explained about his second shot at that hole.
There was water left and right. He was sure it was headed for one or the other.
“It hit the cart path and short-hopped off the guy's knee, and then went out in the fairway forward,” Spieth continued. “It also then went off his knee, up in the air, over some of the water. I mean, it's the equivalent of flying a green towards a hazard and hitting a grandstand and coming back on the green in a way.”
It ended up on a small hill of grass near the green.
He needed to birdie the 9th to make the cut and knew it. He chipped it in. You could hear the roar from the back of the clubhouse in scoring central.
“A lot of times I kind of feel bad about that and don't focus on the next shot, but I hit a 3-wood exactly where I wanted to and hit a chip exactly where I wanted to, so I'm very happy about rebounding from that,” he said, although he had a sheepish look on his face because without that lucky bounce off the fan, he might not be playing the weekend.
“I didn't see it, but when I struck it, I was like, that's out of play. Then all of a sudden they were like -- Joe, Max's caddie said -- it got a huge kick. It's in the fairway. I don't know what it can hit off of over there except for a person,” Spieth added.
From there, Spieth was off to find the man he hit.
“Trying to get that guy's information and see literally whatever he wants this weekend because everything from here on out is because it hit him,” Spieth admitted.
With the rain, the entire course will be softer tomorrow morning which means players will have to take more club because shots won’t roll out as far. In addition, the greens will probably hold a little better.
Will it matter to Spieth? Hard to tell. He’s apparently the luckiest golfer on earth. With the way his life goes, he might just win the tournament.
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