5 Things: Spieth first teen to win on Tour since 1931
Sunday, July 14, 2013
Jordan Spieth posted a par on the fifth hole of a sudden-death, three-way playoff to become the youngest player to win a PGA Tour event since 1931, with the 19-year-old winning the John Deere Classic over Zach Johnson and David Hearn on Sunday evening.
Here are 5 Things to take away from Spieth's maiden victory:
For Your Game: Jordan Spieth
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1. A NEW JORDAN IN TOWN: OK, maybe Jordan Spieth isn't ready for legendary status, but his accomplishment on Sunday rewrote history books.
Spieth became only the fourth teenager to win on the PGA Tour, also breaking a 82-year drought. He turns 20 on July 27.
"I don't think of my age as my age. I just think of playing and competing with these guys as my peers," said Spieth. "The guys in this event, each week, week to week, I don't think of myself as younger than them. But I didn't think it would happen this early."
The University of Texas product started the final round six shots behind 54-hole leader Daniel Summerhays and added a stroke by picking up bogey at the par-4 No. 1 hole. But a birdie on No. 2 and then on Nos. 7, 10, 13 and 14 saw Spieth creep up the leaderboard. A bogey at the par-4 No. 15 seemed to dash his hopes, but a 6-footer for birdie at No. 16 and a two-putt birdie on No. 17 set the drama for his 72nd hole.
After sending his approach shot to the right and into a greenside bunker on No. 18, Spieth took a big chance and went after the hole, only to see the ball hit once, hit the pin and fall in. The make from the sand would get him into the clubhouse at 19 under, also securing a 6-under 65, his best final round as a pro.
Making his way into a three-way playoff, Spieth managed to pick up big par saves on the par-3 16th on the third hole of the playoff and then again with a 5-footer on the par-5 17th, setting the stage yet again for the 18th hole.
After all three players missed the fairway, Spieth was the only player with a clear shot at the green. He switched from an 8-iron to a 7-iron and got his ball to the fringe at the back of the green, two-putted and secured a spot on a private charter flight to the Open Championship this week at Muirfield.
"If I wasn't balding before, I'm definitely after the playoff," said Spieth. "To tell you the truth, the first couple playoff holes were the worst as far as emotions and pressure."
Here's a look at what else the victory did for Spieth:
• Spieth moves to 11th in the FedEx Cup standings, with the points he has accumulated as a player with temporary status now being counted due to the victory;
• Is eligible to play in the FedEx Cup playoffs, as a victory by a temporary player is the only way to qualify;
• Has made more than $2 million in 16 starts on the PGA Tour;
• Has six top-10 performances on Tour in 2013;
• Secures a spot in the 2014 Masters at Augusta National, his first appearance as a player. He has visited and says, "It was like walking on a video game."
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2. DEFENSE RESTS: Defending champion Zach Johnson had a pair of opportunities in extra holes to put away his second consecutive John Deere title, missing a 10-footer on the second playoff hole for birdie and then a 15-footer on the third hole.
But Johnson will point to his bogey on the 72nd hole that allowed Spieth and Hearn to join him in a playoff after he had birdied the par-5 17th to move to 20 under.
"Clearly, all I needed was a par on 18, so that was very unfortunate. I feel like I'm really strong in those situations," said Johnson. "At least I have been in the past. I'm not saying that I won't be in the future, but there are significant more positives than anything this week."
Johnson fired a final-round, 3-under 68 – his worst round of the tournament – after picking up only one birdie over his final 10 holes of the day.
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3. MR. RODGERS: Patrick Rodgers might have created even more questions about whether he is considering going pro after his week at the John Deere Classic.
The Stanford junior fired a 2-under 69 to finish at 14 under and T-15. It was his first made cut in three PGA Tour starts, including 2012 at TPC Deere Run.
Rodgers was a first-team Ping All-American and won three individual titles in the 2012-13 season. He had a 70.9 scoring average in 34 rounds.
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4. THANKS FOR STOPPING BY: Steve Stricker made a nice Sunday charge at TPC Deere Run, but his 5-under 66 wasn't enough to get inside the top 5, breaking a four-year streak. Of course, he was still T-10 at 16 under for the tournament.
Stricker, a three-time champ at the John Deere Classic, picked up two back-nine bogeys – both on par 3s – that left him packing his bags a bit earlier than normal.
"I knew I was close, and I knew I had gotten up there, but I didn't feel close yet because they have all those holes to play. They have all those birdie holes to play. I'm ahead of the game," said Stricker. "I literally thought today I could shoot 61 or 60 like I have in the past. And you've got to do that without any mistakes and capitalize on some other things."
Yet, even as a part-time player, Stricker has managed to pick up five top-10 finishes in eight starts on Tour this season and will improve on his FedEx Cup standing, which was 20th heading into the Deere.
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5. SHORT SHOTS: David Hearn was a hard-luck loser this week, missing a 5-footer on the fourth hole of the playoff and then a 6-footer on the final hole as he looked to secure a spot at Muirfield. He did pick up his first career top-3 finish . . . A week after his first top-10 finish of the season, Davis Love III finished last of those that played the weekend, firing back-to-back 73s and was even par for the tournament . . . Jim Herman picked up his first career top-10 finish after a pair of 67s over the weekend, landing him T-10 . . . Martin Flores finished in the top 5 for the first time this season, firing an 8-under 63 on Sunday.