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Ugly shot, OK finish

British Open 2023: Jordan Spieth did something he says he's never done before in golf Thursday at Liverpool

July 20, 2023
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Jordan Spieth reacts after hitting a shanked second shot on the eighth hole during the first round of the Open Championship.

Gregory Shamus

HOYLAKE, England — It’s noted amusingly by some that golf fans don’t watch Jordan Spieth so much as experience Jordan Spieth. And, if it seems odd that he is high on the Open Championship leaderboard at Royal Liverpool despite a “first ever” shank, which led to a double bogey on a par 5, you’re likely only casual follower, then, of the Jordan Spieth Experience.

Spieth, who won the 2017 Open only 45 minutes from Liverpool at Royal Birkdale, found himself again in the hunt at the U.K. major courtesy of a 69 that left him at two under par and three behind the clubhouse lead shared by South African amateur Christo Lamprecht, local hope Tommy Fleetwood and recent PGA Tour winner Emiliano Grillo

Usually, a 69 from Spieth would not warrant much attention but, as always with the three-time major champion, there’s more to the scorecard than numbers. Spieth was cruising at two under par early in his round courtesy of laser approach into No.7 that set up a second birdie.

On the par-5 eighth, however, playing his second shot from the native area, Spieth hit what can only be described as a cold, hard shank with an 8-iron. He had to take a drop, and from there made a 7.

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Gregory Shamus

“I just had my face wide open, ball above my feet on a really bad lie, trying to flop cut an 8-iron,” he said. “I feel like I'm as good as anybody at that shot and I guess the hosel got there first. That shakes you up a little bit. I've never hit one before, so it took me a couple holes to feel like I got my feet back under me. On [the par-3] ninth, there was no chance I was hitting anywhere near the heel, so I toed that one in the bunker [saved par] and then I was fine after that.”

We’ll have to take Spieth’s word, but he has previously claimed shank on shots that did not fly directly right off the hosel. At this year’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am, the Texan exclaimed, “My goodness gracious that’s a shank” after a shot that carried a reasonable distance. At last year’s PGA Championship at Southern Hills, Spieth was also heard on camera saying he’d hit a “stone cold shank” despite the ball only veering mildly offline to the right.

In typical Spieth fashion, he played the back nine in two under having made birdies at Nos. 11, 15 and 16 before a bogey on the par-5 18th.

Besides the hosel rocket, the Dallas native said he was relishing links golf again.

“I think when I land [in the U.K.] I know [I’m] going to have to play a different style of golf,” he said. “I grew up in the wind, so I grew up learning how to have to flight it. I like the imagination around the greens, putting some, bumping others, using three or four different clubs around the greens. [Royal Liverpool] reminds me of Birkdale in that a lot of it is [through] the air on approach shots. There's more table-top [greens] here making it even more challenging. There's not a lot of old school links, where you can run the ball up.”

Spieth adores links golf so much he even traveled through Ireland last year en route to the Open at St. Andrews.

“I like the idea of coming over a few days early, playing some new places where I haven't played before, and then going from the Scottish [Open] to British, or Scottish to the Open. I know I'm supposed to say ‘the Open.’”

You’re also not supposed to shank the golf ball, but Spieth has done that and remained in the mix at Royal Liverpool. It’s all part of the experience.

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Is it the British Open or the Open Championship? The name of the final men’s major of the golf season is a subject of continued discussion. The event’s official name, as explained in this op-ed by former R&A chairman Ian Pattinson, is the Open Championship. But since many United States golf fans continue to refer to it as the British Open, and search news around the event accordingly, Golf Digest continues to utilize both names in its coverage.

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