This Jordan Spieth hole? It featured rules, a fence — and ‘a whoa, Mikey’
He carded a six, but there was so much more.
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before. Still, the Jordan Spieth experience remains must-see, and Friday’s sequence during the Sony Open’s second round was no different. What did it have? What didn’t it?
A water ball? A rules discussion? A fence? A conversation with caddie Michael Greller? A ‘whoa Mikey?’ Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes.
“Living on the edge,” analyst Mark Rolfing said during the Golf Channel broadcast. “That’s not unusual for him.”
Indeed. Here, then, is how Spieth played the 494-yard, par-5 9th at Waialae Country Club.
Spieth hit his tee ball right and over palm trees and onto a cart path, where it bounced, then splashed into water that runs along the right side of the hole. On the tee, Spieth leaned to the left, in an unsuccessful bid for his ball to move that way, too.
Spieth took his penalty stroke, then debated where to drop. He could play two club lengths to the left of the hazard, and he would have a line to the hole 233 yards away, albeit with a collection of trees about 20 yards in front of him, part of the cart path beneath him, and maybe most notably, just a few feet between him and the water. He could take relief from the path, too, and he’d have a better stance, but no shot at the green.
He took the latter — of course he did — after a short talk with PGA Tour rules official Ken Tackett, who we should note was dressed wonderfully for Aloha Friday, with a decorative black shirt.
“What Jordan is dealing with here is he’s got an option to take two drops, and I don’t think he’s going to take one,” analyst John Wood said on the broadcast. “He can take relief from the penalty area and get it on a thin piece of grass that you see right of the cart path. He could then take another set of relief from that cart path, to the left, but if he does that, he’s got four palm trees right in front of him; he’s got no shot of hitting the green. If he drops on that little strip of grass, he’s got a decent lie, he has a chance to get it on the green.
“Well, John, Jordan sees things that most golfers don’t, that’s for sure,” Rolfing said.
Spieth hit and hooked. His ball was heading toward the chain-link boundary fence that separates the hole from the driving range, and he yelled for Greller, who had started to walk up the hole. He may have needed a new ball.
“Whoa, Mikey! Michael, can you come back here?”
But his third stroke ended up being safe.
“Oh, nevermind,” Spieth said, the Golf Channel mics picking up his words. “It’s in.”
Spieth’s ball was a couple yards to the right of the fence, and about 25 yards behind another collection of palm trees. The play was a punch to the green about 60 yards away, and Spieth and Greller debated the club; Spieth wanted a 9-iron, Greller an 8.
“I just need it to somehow fit under this tree, but carry to where it’s not rough,” Spieth said. “Which is going to be really hard. And I think if I go up clubs, it doesn’t change anything.”
Greller pitched the 8-iron.
“No, I think an 8-iron will not be able to carry to the fairway, and if it does, we’re going over the green,” Spieth said.
“Yeah, I’m just going to keep this low,” Spieth said. “The further right I go the better.”
“I’m not going to hit an 8-iron anywhere on the green,” Spieth said.
“So the wedge make-up is that it’s going to come off low and launch. … If I go to these other irons, it can pop up,” Spieth said. “I don’t think it necessarily goes any lower. … So I’m just going to hit it out there, OK?”
“OK,” Greller said.
Spieth punched out, his ball ducked the tree, it carried the rough in front of the green, and it rolled to the back of the putting surface. As it did, Spieth encouraged it.
“Please, please stop moving.”
“You know it’s great to watch Jordan when he gets into a little bit of a pickle, isn’t it?” analyst Paul Azinger said on the broadcast.
“I’m not sure if he’d agree with you right now, but it will be interesting for everybody else,” Wood said.
STROKES FIVE AND SIX
On the green, Spieth’s ball was 58 feet from the hole. His par putt finished almost 10 feet short of that.
“John, it’s almost like Jordan is trying to sneak up on this hole with cover and camouflage and all kinds of things,” Rolfing said on the broadcast.
“It has been a strange hole, for sure,” Wood said. “That first putt, it looked like he was rushing it. It looked like he couldn’t wait to get it over with, just because I think he knew he took a long time on this hole and help the group out a little. But it certainly didn’t look like he took the normal amount of time he takes on putts.”
Then Spieth dropped in the right-to-lefter. And he had his six.
The bogey, though, was part of a disastrous stretch. After starting the round in a share of the lead after a first-round 64, Spieth bogeyed six holes on Friday — including four straight, from holes 8 to 11 — against just one birdie. He missed the cut by a shot, with a birdie bid on the 18th falling short.
Of course, there was so much more.