Jordan Spieth raised a lot of eyebrows in the golf world when he decided to play in the John Deere Classic the week before the Open Championship. But so far the decision is paying off.
Spieth won the small Illinois tournament on the second hole of a playoff, his fourth PGA Tour win of the season, and took home a winner’s check of $US846,000.
A lot of people questioned the decision to play the tournament instead of heading to Scotland with the rest of the world’s top golfers. The biggest concern is that Spieth, who has won the first two legs of golf’s grand slam, will only have a minimal amount of time to prepare for St. Andrews and the Open.
Geoff Shackleford said he was “perplexed” by the decision calling St. Andrews “the most complicated course on the planet.”
“[Spieth] will arrive to the most complicated course on the planet having played it once, with only the opportunity to play two, maybe three practice rounds,” wrote Shackleford. “No course on the planet rewards those who learn its intricacies more, which is why I’m perplexed at the decision to play the Deere and risk a late arrival at the Home of Golf with a Grand Slam on the line.”
Spieth defended the decision in an interview with the Golf Channel.
“It wasn’t hard. It was harder for other people to realise. For me I had committed a long time ago. It’s a tournament that’s very close to my heart. Not only was it my first win and it launched my career forward, but it was also a place that gave me an exemption when I was in amateur, when I was in college and looking for starts to test my game and find out if I was ready.”
But while Spieth will only have a few practice rounds and won’t have the benefit of playing the Scottish Open as a warm-up as many other top golfers did, he does head into the third leg of the grand slam red hot.
After struggling with an opening round of even-par at the John Deere, Spieth worked out some kinks and shot 20-under over the next 54 holes. It seemed like Spieth was just having target practice.
Spieth referenced the “momentum” he now has several times in his press conference after the tournament.
“I came here for a reason, and we accomplished that reason, and certainly have some momentum going into next week,” said Spieth.
As if 64-61 the last two days didn’t have Jordan Spieth licking his chops, news that St. Andrews is playing soft should have him salivating.
— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelESPN) July 11, 2015
Spieth also told the Golf Channel that he he has been practicing for the Open Championship by playing the St. Andrews course on a simulator at home. While that is certainly not the same as being at the course, it is something players didn’t have 20 years ago when there was no substitute for being in Scotland.
It remains to be seen if this will all pay off at the Open. But Spieth is playing with a ton of confidence and he has spent time learning the course. He is also nearly $US900,000 richer.
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