Jordan Spieth's second penalty of Hero week was even more bizarre than his first

December 05, 2021

NEW PROVIDENCE, Bahamas — The Hero World Challenge is supposed to be a stress-free week. There are only 20 players in the field, it takes place in paradise, and last place still pays $100,000.

Jordan Spieth, however, has managed to get himself into a couple rules imbroglios. Yes, plural.

On Saturday, Spieth failed to replace his ball after accidentally nudging it with his putter on the 18th green. Under the new 13.1(d), which went into effect in 2019, he wouldn't have been penalized as long as he moved the ball back to his original position. But because he played it from the new spot, he was assessed a two-shot penalty. His par became a double bogey, and a one-over 73 became a three-over 75.

You'd think he'd be extra careful on Sunday, but the opposite is true. The three-time major winner went off in the first twosome alongside Henrik Stenson. He was even par for the day when he stepped to the ninth hole, a 600-plus-yard par 5 that has water all down the right. The ninth tee had been moved up a box today, and the tee for the par-3 17th had been moved to the box where the ninth tee was originally. Players were alerted of the change and the tee markers were facing the 17th hole, but Spieth and Stenson proceeded anyway.

They were alerted of their mistake while walking to their tee shots and headed back to the ninth tee to play from the right tee with a two-shot penalty. Had they finished the hole and teed off the 10th tee, they would've been disqualifed. Spieth wound up making a triple-bogey 8 and Stenson took a 7.

After the round, Spieth and Stenson were able to laugh off the mistake, perhaps because they were the only two golfers in the field who were over par for the week so the penalties weren't score-crushers.

Said Stenson: "Yeah, I'm still not sure which way we played it, but yeah, we kept our heads down off the finishing out on hole No. 8 and walked to the 9 tee box that we did on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and put the ball down and hit some beautiful tee shots. Then when we went down to the hole, went down to the balls. The rules official said, did you hit off the right tee box? And we're like, well, yeah, kind of … and then we looked back and we saw that there was another one forward and left. So obviously they switched things around and put 17 on the 9th tee box today and 9 was in a different place and we didn't pay attention being first out and just motoring along. Yes, it was just go back and reload. It was only two shots each, so it wasn't a big deal. Then we just kind of carried on from there."

"I actually didn't think we were going to get penalized because it's a charity event," joked Spieth, "but then I realized there's World Ranking [points] involved and all that. I think the frustrating part for us now is that every other group's going to be … they're making sure to tell them, but for us they didn't. It obviously didn't matter for us, which is fortunate I think for those guys."

Spieth is the father to newborm Sammy, who's not yet a month old, so you have to think his sleep has been compromised. We're going to give him the benefit of the doubt and surmise that he's dead tired and not thinking clearly. How else do you explain such a snafu?