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It's just Jordy

Jordan Spieth adds bizarre gutter ball to his wacky shot lore

April 06, 2024
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Jordan Spieth intentionally plays at shot towward the TPC San Antonio clubhouse on the 18th hole.

Brennan Asplen

Take a look at the photo above. Or at the PGA Tour video below. See how the golfer is playing his third shot on the 18th hole at TPC San Antonio, and the conclusion could be that this is a screen shot from a video game. There is no green grass in sight. No flagstick. Just bushes and rocks and a fence and golf carts and a clubhouse in the line of the shot. Who would attempt such a thing?

Then you realize it’s Jordan Spieth, and there is nothing too crazy that can’t be tried. This is, after all, the player whose terrible tee shot in the 2017 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale ended up on the driving range—in an unplayable lie, but somehow inbounds. Spieth took a penalty stroke, but then marched many yards back to play his third shot over trucks and eventually escape with a bogey en route to winning the claret jug.

The Texan is not going to capture the Valero Texas Open this week—he’s 12 shots off the lead of Akshay Bhatia—but he created another Jordan Moment for the memory banks.

The journey on the 18th started when Spieth pulled his tee shot on the par-5 18th into a position in a scrubby area blocked by trees. Eschewing a punchout back to near the fairway, he tried to play farther left, but his ball clipped a tree and kicked into a red-staked penalty area.

The beauty was that Spieth was truly playing like one of us hacks, refusing to take our medicine and staying lost in the woods.

For his next play, Spieth couldn’t get relief from his lie near a cement structure, and after some discussion with a rules official and caddie Michael Greller, he opted to aim straight at the clubhouse. Why? Because, for some reason, the building and its surrounds were not OB, and he would get a free drop.

Then to the delight of the announcers and viewers, Spieth’s lofted shot landed on the clubhouse’s slotted metal roof, rolled down and … “and now it’s in the gutter!” exclaimed NBC anchor Dan Hicks. Then this further quip from the booth, “Maybe it’s coming down the drain and coming out through the hole on a mini putt-putt course!”

Of course, Spieth’s work was far from done. He used the rules again to get relief from a temporary scoreboard, though still had 106 yards to the flagstick from wispy brush and rocks. Spieth punched the fifth shot onto the green, but left his 45-foot bogey putt eight feet short and suffered a double-bogey 7 that gave him a 72. He dropped seven spots on the day into a tie for 17th.

Predictably, Golf Twitter had its opinions on both the wackiness of the route Spieth took and his liberal—though correct—use of the rules. A couple of highlights: