‘If I hit it in the water, I hit it in the water’: Jordan Spieth’s wild 18th at Hero

Jordan Spieth

Jordan Spieth picks up a stray ball on Thursday left of the 18th fairway at the Albany Golf Course.

Golf Channel

Jordan Spieth, after hitting his tee shot just into the water left of the 18th fairway at the Albany Golf Course, was now going over his options on the grass embankment just above the ball. His white shoes and white socks were off, and the legs of his black pants were rolled up to just below his knees. 

“I was just thinking of trying to thin-cut it out there, at the middle of the green,” Spieth said.  

“Is the lie fine?” his caddie, Michael Greller said. 

“I mean, it’s hittable,” Spieth said. 

No strangers to player-caddie exchanges, Spieth and Greller gave one of their better ones during Thursday’s first round of the Hero World Challenge, and it resulted in one of the better escape shots you’ll see. In all, the three-or-so minute sequence picked up by Golf Channel mics included what to do with another ball in the water, a call to a rules official and whether Spieth would hit the shot if he were in the lead — which he wasn’t. 

After telling Greller the ball was hittable, Spieth waded back into the water, and he wondered how to approach a ball that another unlucky player had hit just into the penalty area, left there and was now a couple of inches from Spieth’s. 

“Am I allowed to move this ball?” Spieth asked Greller. 

“Don’t think so,” the caddie said. “You can ask. It’s worth asking.” 

“Can you guys call somebody?” Spieth shouted out. 

As they waited, they went over the shot, which would also have to carry more water in front of him. Spieth, Greller told him, was 148 yards away to the front of the green, which was close to where the pin was; and 153 yards to the center.  

“I think it’s going to come skinny, like short cut,” Spieth said. “That’s why I have this club. Just hit one up the middle of the green. Like thin. If I hit it in the water, I hit it in the water. It doesn’t matter. I think it’s fine.” 

Greller agreed. But he then asked whether Spieth would play that shot with the lead. At the moment, Spieth was four back in the 20-player event.   

“If you were six-under, would you hit the shot over here?” Greller asked, pointing out to the right and short of the green. 

“Oh, if I was six-under, I’d hit a wedge right out there,” Spieth said, also pointing out to the right. “But I’m not six-under. I’m fine with this.” 

“Is this what the shot calls for?” Greller asked. 

“No, no, because I think this is the best way to make a low score,” Spieth said.

At that point, rules official Gary Young pulled up in a cart. Spieth asked whether he could remove the second ball. 

“Yeah, you sure can,” Young said.  

“Even though it’s kind of embedded?” Spieth asked.  

“Yeah, you can go ahead,” Young said. “It’s just an outside influence. Yep, you’re good.”

Spieth picked up the ball and tossed it behind him. The mics picked up the kerplunk. 

“Thank you,” Spieth said. “I figured. So I just didn’t know if it was embedded, you know, if it counted. Like a rock was embedded.” 

“Nope, you’re good,” Young said, before pulling away. 

From there, after another confirmation on the yardage, Spieth hit, splashed himself but cleared the water, his ball landing just over the green. He finished with a bogey, and a one-under 71, after failing to get up and down. 

“That was an awesome play,” announcer Steve Sands said on the Golf Channel broadcast. “Cool to listen to him explain it.” 

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