U.S. Open: Snedeker WDs; Spieth in tournament
SAN FRANCISCO -– Jordan Spieth almost withdrew from his U.S. Open sectional qualifier. He was in the middle of his day’s second round, playing on fewer than three hours sleep, on the day after an emotional victory half a continent away.
It’s a good thing he played those final nine holes at Houston’s Lakeside Country Club. His persistence paid off in the form a U.S. Open tee time. Spieth was added to the field Monday evening when Brandt Snedeker withdrew with a rib injury.
This will be the first major championship for Spieth, who’s developed into one of the game’s promising prospects. He’s the only player other than Tiger Woods to win multiple U.S. Junior Amateurs (2009, ’11). He’s contended on the PGA Tour, twice. He was a member of last year’s Walker Cup team before his collegiate career began, and finished this season No. 2 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings. He’s third in the R&A’s World Amateur Ranking.
It was eight days ago that Spieth helped the storied Texas golf program - the one that produced names like Justin Leonard, Ben Crenshaw and Tom Kite – to its first NCAA title in 40 years. Spieth’s teammate, Dylan Frittelli, produced the day’s most memorable highlight, a 30-foot, championship-clinching birdie putt on Riviera Country Club’s 18th hole. It was a stroke that even earned a spot on SportsCenter, the rarest of destinations for a college-golf video.
The Longhorns beat Alabama, 3-2, in the NCAA Championship’s final match on June 3 in Pacific Palisades, Calif. Spieth earned one of those points by beating Justin Thomas, the nation’s No. 1 player, 3 and 2. The victory was sealed shortly after Spieth holed out for eagle 2 on Riviera’s 15th hole.
The Longhorns left Southern California that Sunday afternoon for their Austin home. Spieth estimates he was asleep at 1 a.m. He was awake again at approximately 3:30 a.m. so that he, Frittelli and assistant coach Ryan Murphy could make the 165-mile drive to Houston for U.S. Open sectional qualifying.
Spieth debated withdrawing after 27 holes. “I wasn’t feeling good. I was light-headed. I was really tired and I didn’t think I had much of a chance at that point,” he said. “I decided to see what would happen.”
A bogey at Lakeside’s first hole, his 28th of the day, made him doubt the decision to carry on. But three birdies on his final eight holes earned him a spot in the playoff. “I birdied both the par-3s, which are the hardest holes on that nine, with 4-irons off the tee,” Spieth said. “I just made putts. I didn’t hit it great the whole day because I didn’t have any power.”
Spieth’s consecutive 70s put him in a 4-for-2 playoff. A three-putt par eliminated him on the third extra hole, but left him as the site’s first alternate. That doesn’t matter now. He’s scheduled to arrive at Olympic Club on Tuesday morning as a participant, not an alternate.
“It was a very exciting, interesting 24-hour period from the time Dylan made his putt to the time the playoff ended,” Spieth said. And it resulted in an NCAA title and a U.S. Open berth.