Jordan Spieth wins at Colonial
There was never anything seriously wrong with Jordan Spieth. You knew that, of course but it was nice to get a reminder of that on Sunday at Colonial where Spieth won his second tournament of 2016.
Spieth was in the final group of the day, paired with Webb Simpson and Colonial member Ryan Palmer. After a non-descript front nine with all pars, Spieth found himself trailing, but he went on a run with three straight birdies to start his back nine before a bogey on the par-3 13th set him back. After a couple of pars and some missteps from the groups in front him, Spieth was tied for the lead on the par-3 16th, and as the official PGA Tour Twitter account put it, he rose to the occasion.
He would walk to the 17th tee with a one shot lead, but he didn’t make it easy on himself. His wayward swings from the tee, or the dreaded two-way miss as it has been labeled, reemerged and Spieth hit a marshal instead of the fairway, leading to a difficult approach that he pulled left of the green. Just when it looked possible that we might see another stumble down the stretch, Spieth gave us another one of those special moments.
The look on Spieth’s face said it all. This was not an easy shot, and holing it probably never even entered his mind because really, why would it? He would have been happy to get up and down and tee off on 18 with a one shot lead, but instead it was two and at the end of it, after another long birdie putt, the win was by a comfortable three shots even though it probably didn’t feel quite that way.
The similarities to what Rory McIlroy did last week at the Irish Open are obvious. The hometown kid won the title by proving that he really is that much better than the competition. When he needed it, the extra gear was there and he didn’t wilt under the pressure. The flair for the dramatic down the stretch, albeit with a very different approach (Rory’s long game vs. Jordan’s short) made a tournament that lacked drama and pizzaz a ton of fun to watch as it concluded. Having said all that, it should also serve as a reminder that, just like Rory, our expectations for constant greatness out of anyone in this game are foolish.
“ 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. It’s very difficult – and I’m 22. It’s not like I hadn’t won. We’ve won two majors. It’s very difficult to stay present, stay positive when that’s happening, when those are the only questions. ”
That quote, from Mike McAllister’s excellent recap, was from Spieth after the tournament. For the last six weeks, Spieth has been asked about and bombarded with questions on how he would get over his loss at the Masters; a 42 minute stretch of golf that has happened to everyone who has ever played the game, but was magnified because of where it happened and who it happened to. Spieth looked so utterly invincible in 2015, and had played so flawlessly for 63 holes at the Masters last month that of course it was a shock to the system when he collapsed on the back nine, but the truth is that there was no one better equipped to handle that disaster, both mentally and physically. Sunday at Colonial was his way of responding.
The reality of the situation is that Spieth has now won twice in his last ten worldwide starts and as we all know, nearly won the Masters and definitely should have. Winning at that kind of clip, 20%, is something that just doesn’t happen that often. The run that Tiger went on for years, and the current streak that Jason Day is on right now has set the bar so ridiculously high that it’s easy to forget sometimes that this game is exceedingly difficult, even for someone like Jordan Spieth. Of course, the way Spieth played down the stretch on Sunday at Colonial, he has a way of making that fact pretty easy to forget too. The important thing is that he knows all of this.
He might not have needed the reminder, but he’s probably happy that he got it anyway.