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Jordan Spieth on the brink of another 'W,' Ian Poulter makes a move and two rules legends call it a career

May 29, 2021

Jordan Spieth lines up his putt on the second hole green during the third round of the Charles Schwab Challenge.

Tom Pennington

Any time Jordan Spieth is leading and in the final group on a Sunday, he is the story. Add in the fact that he's going for his second win in the last nine weeks, and he's pretty much the only story.

But both Jason Kokrak, who is one shot back after matching Spieth's third-round 66, and Sergio Garcia (five back, 68), each with a win already in this PGA Tour season, might have something to say about that. Garcia struck first at the Sanderson Farms Championship in October, closing out the tournament with one of the shots of the year on the 72nd hole. Kokrak won two weeks later at the CJ Cup at Shadow Creek, holding off Xander Schauffele, who you may have heard of, with a scintillating final-round 64 in Sin City.

Two pretty impressive victories, some would say, and both Kokrak and Garcia would love another, the former to bolster his fringe Ryder Cup resume and the latter to pick up career win No. 2 at Colonial, 20 years after his first. Two worthy storylines, no doubt. 

But alas, Spieth is in the mix, in his home state, at a course at which he's already won, with a pair of runner-ups, too. He's the focus, as he should be. When Spieth is running pure, it's his world and we are all just living in it. 

Tom Pennington

Ian Poulter makes a monster move

Speaking of the Ryder Cup, Ian Poulter, a European team staple, is very much on the outside looking in right now. He's always in captain's pick territory, of course, but he's hardly shown much form recently outside of an OK week at the Match Play, which he could get up for no matter how bad he's playing. 

Now that it's officially Ryder Cup SZN (you're going to hear this stuff every week until September), perhaps Poults is about to heat up. He certainly did on Saturday, shooting a six-under 64 to skyrocket 25 spots up the leader board. He'll likely need something similar, or lower, to have a serious chance on Sunday, but the third-round 64 might be something to build on. Any signs of life from now until September and it will be hard for Padraig Harrington to leave him off the squad. 

The end of a (rules) era

You probably didn't even know it, but two rules legends—Slugger White and Mark Russell —are calling it a career, together, this week. Isn't that just adorable? The longtime buddies combined for 80 years of service on the PGA Tour: 

As someone who has been watching golf for two decaces, this truly does feel like the end of an era. These guys have been a part of our Sundays for years, often because of wacky rules situation that end up making for gripping television. And every time, they both handled it in as professional of a manner as they could have. They are both the embodiment of the term "pro's pro." 

"Doesn't get any better than this," said White. "Mark and I have been friends for 40 years plus, and that will continue. ... It's kind of a bittersweet thing. But we understand that it's time to pass the baton and we'll be just fine. Everything will be good." 

"Same here," Russell added, "I've been coming to Colonial for 40 years and I've ran this golf tournament for probably 25 years now, and Slugger and I, we don't work together very often, but he realized what an awesome event this is, and he would come here and work. We don't get together very often, but it's great that he's been here for so many years with me and certainly going to miss him. But we'll stay in touch. We'll hook up from time to time." 

Thinking about White and Russell hanging out in retirement is filling our hearts with gladness. Just a couple of guys being dudes, talkin' rules. Actually, we hope for their sake that they have something much more interesting to talk about in retirement than the Rules of Golf. 

Erik Compton putts on the 18th hole during the first round of the Charles Schwab Challenge.

Tom Pennington

Erik Compton looking for first top-10 in a loooong time

If you missed our story on Erik Compton from Thursday, it's definitely worth reading now. Compton didn't light it up on Saturday, but his even-par 70 kept him inside the top 10. Should he stay there on Sunday with a low round, Compton could lock up his first top-10 on the PGA Tour in a very, very long time. 

How long? Compton's last on tour, a T-10 on the dot, came at the 2015 Humana Challenge in La Quinta, Calif., now known as The American Express. It should be noted that this is only Compton's third PGA Tour start since 2016, as the 41-year-old has spent the majority of the last six years on the Korn Ferry Tour attempting to get his tour card back. He won't earn it with a top-10 on Sunday, but it would be his biggest week in pro golf in years, making for arguably the best non-Spieth storyline of the final round.