Golf Buzz

Jordan Spieth
USA Today Sports Images
The 13th hole at Royal Birkdale could have been a disaster for Jordan Spieth on Sunday. Instead, he carefully studied all his options and walked away from the hole with minimal damage to the scorecard.

What Jordan Spieth accomplished on Sunday at Royal Birkdale in becoming just the second player alongside Jack Nicklaus to win three legs of the career grand slam before the age of 24 was epic.

But what if things played out differently after Spieth's tee shot on the par-4 13th hole in the final round?

As you'll recall, Spieth and Kuchar went to the 13th tied for the lead at 8 under. When they left the green, Spieth was trailing for the first time all week after walking away with a bogey to Kuchar's par.

RELATED: Spieth's wild finish earns first win at The Open | Final-round photos

The bogey was all-world and -- based on the tee shot -- truly minimal damage. It could have been a whole lot worse... especially if Spieth wasn't so in tune with his rules options.

Let's revisit the scene.

Spieth pushed his tee shot well right and into the hairy, fescue snarled dunes. After a lengthy search for the ball, it was finally discovered.



Now what? Does Spieth return to the tee? Does he play the ball as it lies?

Instead, Spieth kept his poise, thought through his options and enlisted the help of a rules official.

On the broadcast, commentators wondered why Spieth didn't just go back to the tee. While that was happening, Spieth was wondering -- while keeping line and sight to the green -- if he could take an unplayable lie and simply find a spot on the nearby (in bounds) driving range to drop the ball, ensuring a perfect lie for what would be his third shot.



After a lot of work in determining where on the range he was entitled to his drop -- roughly 25 minutes -- Spieth finally took his drop and proceeded to hit an amazing, blind long iron shot back into position, just in front of the green before getting up and down for one of the most impressive bogeys you'll ever see.



Spieth easily could have lost the tournament on that hole, but instead, he buckled down.

"I was really impressed by Jordan with how everything went down on that 13th hole Sunday," said PGA Professional Rob Labritz, Director of Golf at the GlenArbor Golf Club in Bedford Hills, N.Y. "When you re-tee, you're giving up all that distance. He wanted to find a way to not have to do that. Any time you can avoid the stroke and distance and save something on the other side, you have to. Jordan inquired a rules official wanting to know all his options. Once he found out the driving range wasn't considered out of bounds, he went back there. It's all about knowing basic rules and then asking the right questions. That's experience."

It's the kind of experience you wouldn't necessarily expect from someone so young. Then again, Spieth may be one of a kind.

He showed poise and limited the damage.

"He's really solid beyond his years and just so calm," Labritz said. "You hear comments under his breath on almost every shot, but he's not acting like a little kid. He's so in control of his game and emotions and just so calm."

And to pull off the shot that he did after a 25-minute delay between shots? That was something else too.

"In a situation like that where you're taking so much time, you're worrying about the rest of the field too," Labritz said. "In this case, there was no one behind him he was holding up, but he was aware of Matt Kuchar -- and even acknowledged that when he arrived at the green. In that position, Jordan needed to take his time to get his options right."

What happened next was one of the most eye-popping stretches we've ever seen in major championship golf.

Spieth rebounded from the bogey with a near-ace on the next hole that led to a tap-in birdie and a share of the lead. From there, he would eagle the par-5 15th hole and then collect birdies on 16 and 17.

Spieth played the first 13 holes of the final round in 4-over par. He played the final five holes in 5-under par to ultimately defeat Kuchar by three shots.

"That stretch he had was insane after the bogey," Labritz said. "That one swing was one blip and that's the only attention he paid to it. He's not focused on the outcome, but the shot he's hitting. That's the whole thing about golf. The more and more I talk to very good players -- Tour players, PGA Professionals, club champions -- they're men and women who aren't looking at outcomes. They're looking at the shot in front of them. That's the only thing you can do at that moment, the only thing they can control. There's no point in undue stress you can't control."

In the end, Kuchar didn't lose the tournament -- he ran into a buzzsaw.

"Jordan won the tournament," Labritz said. "Kuchar has to sit back and say, 'I got beat.' If you run into a guy who can putt like Spieth... it's remarkable what he does under pressure. You just have to say to yourself, 'I ran into a Tiger-like/Spieth factor that day.' That's what Tiger did for years." 

Jordan Spieth
In roughly a 30-minute span, Jordan Spieth went from trailing Matt Kuchar by one stroke to leading by one stroke.

What a day it's been for Jordan Spieth at Royal Birkdale.

After a turbulent start that included bogeys on three of his first four holes, quickly erasing the three-stroke lead he began the day with, Spieth has been nothing short of magical -- if not erratic -- since.

When the 23-year-old bogeyed the 13th hole -- an incredible bogey, by the way -- it was the first time this week that he had surrendered a lead.

RELATED: Open Championship leaderboard | Sunday photos from Royal Birkdale

On the very next hole, however, he tied Matt Kuchar for the lead with a tap-in birdie after nearly holing his tee shot.

It was just a sign of things to come.

Spieth snagged the outright lead at the 15th when he drained this bomb for eagle on the par 5:



Love the reaction, too, pointing to the hole and commanding caddie Michael Greller to,
"Go get that!"

Kuchar would make birdie.

Spieth, at 10 under, leads by one with three holes to play.

What a show.