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Spieth finds his putter in 3rd place finish

By Billy Hull
Published on

When Justin Thomas' 60-footer for eagle on the 72nd hole of the Sony Open in Hawaii stayed just off the edge of the cup, a single "boo" rang out from the gallery behind 18.

A quick glance found a smiling Jordan Spieth, fresh off a 7-under 63, looking on with interest as his good buddy wrapped up a dominant sweep of the Hawaii swing of the PGA Tour on Sunday.

"Close call," Spieth quipped to Jimmy Johnson, who was on the bag for Thomas' eight-stroke runaway win.

Thomas' brilliance was so great that Spieth, despite shooting no worse than a 66 in his four trips through Waialae Country Club, finished a ridiculous eight shots behind the winner.

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The world's No. 5-ranked golfer, who ended the tournament at 19 under, had a better score than six of his eight PGA Tour wins, but was left fighting for runner-up with Thomas so far ahead of the field.

"Honestly, it felt like we were playing just a different tournament," Spieth said. "I honestly felt like I was trying to win the tournament for second place."

Spieth played like it was a Sunday at Augusta with birdies on each of his first three holes.

Any thoughts of a Waialae miracle ended on the par-3 fourth when he missed the green completely on his tee shot and left his second in the bunker.

It took an 18-footer to save bogey and Spieth added a disappointing par at No. 9 to go out in 33.

As he did to start the round, Spieth opened the back nine with three consecutive birdies and closed with two more on 16 and 18 to briefly hold a tie for second place.

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He settled for third after Justin Rose finished with three birdies in his last four holes to get to 20 under.

"It was a nice battle for second place," Spieth said.

It was also a similar ending to the one Spieth had last week at Kapalua, when he closed with a 7-under 65 after struggling with the putter.

Spieth was in the lower half of the field in strokes gained putting but finished with 25 putts in his final round after needed at least 30 to get through each of his first three rounds. He made 18 of his 23 putts attempted from inside 30 feet.

"I moved the ball a little back in my stance, turned my right toe a little open ... it was just to get my brain off my strokes," Spieth said. "On number one, the first one goes in from a good range where I felt like I hit my line and sometimes that's all you need is one to go."

As well as Thomas played, Spieth hit six more greens in regulation, but couldn't keep up with the putter that has won him two major titles in his four-plus years on tour.

Yet his closing rounds of 65 on Maui and 63 on Oahu have made for back-to-back top-three finishes for Spieth.

"Good Sunday paydays I guess the last couple of weeks," Spieth said. "I thought if I got to 19 I might have pulled in a second but there's some tremendous golf played by a lot of players this week. It even says more about the guys out here hitting 20 under on these tricky greens." ___

This article is written by Billy Hull from The Honolulu Star-Advertiser and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network.

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