Heir Jordan

Mike Glasscott
TOUR Championship: Preview
Jordan Spieth returns to defend his 2015 title in the TOUR Championship. He also owns a runner-up at East Lake

American Jordan Spieth, all 19 years of him, defeated 2012 champion Zach Johnson and Canadian David Hearn in a five-hole playoff to win the John Deere Classic. Spieth began the day in ninth place but after his bunker shot hit the flag and when in on No. 18 he posted 19-under-par 265. Zach Johnson had a chance to win the tournament outright but his bogey on the 72nd hole only got him in the playoff. David Hearn also had a chance to make birdie on Nos. 17 and 18 but his two pars also relegated him to the playoff. After near misses by Johnson and Hearn over the course of four playoff holes, Spieth survived and advanced by holing clutch par putt after clutch par putt. On the fifth and final playoff hole, Johnson found the water and made bogey; Hearn had 10 or so feet for par, but missed, leaving Spieth to tap home the winner. This will be the first of many for the young Texan!

After an opening round 70, Spieth shifted into gear by making 21 birdies and carding only three bogeys in his final three rounds of 65-65-65. He closed out Sunday with 31 on the back and win, lose or draw, he showed his chops. His ball-striking was solid and so was his putting but the one thing I noticed the most during all of this was he rarely seemed bothered by the moment. Sure, this is the John Deere Classic not the U.S. Open but he seemed to relish the moment instead of shying from it. That’s class. That’s somebody who’s won tournaments before, including the U.S. Junior Amateur twice. Only Tiger Woods, three, has more U.S. Junior Amateur victories.

If you are unaware of the name Jordan Spieth in fantasy circles then you should be about last place in your league. In 16 events this season he’s played the weekend 12 times. Not bad for a teenager. Of those 12 weekends, he’s hit the top 25 eight times, the top 10 six times and now adds a W to his T2 finish in Puerto Rico. Spieth, by weight of his accomplishments this season, was awarded Special Temporary Member-status on TOUR which MEANT, past-tense, that he could receive unlimited sponsor’s exemptions but his FEDEXCup points would NOT count because he was not a member. The only way to collect his points and be eligible for the Playoffs was to win and he did that today. Now, he’s a member of the TOUR, he’s heading to Scotland to play The Open Championship and his FEDEXCup points will be retroactively awarded. What a day/week/season for a kid! The reason fantasy gamers loved him was because they knew the only way he could get in the Playoffs was to win and he did that a week after missing 14 birdies attempts on Sunday. Whew. Roller coaster of fun. Moving forward, it would not surprise me to see Spieth stop and smell the roses but not for long. He looks like he’s quite comfortable with the big boys.

With this victory, Spieth collects $828,000, 500 FedExCup points and a two-year exemption on TOUR. Oh, and he gets to play Muirfield next week and Augusta next year. He’s also eligible for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in August.

Déjà vu All Over Again?

Spieth is the youngest winner on TOUR since Ralph Gudahl in 1931. He was 19 years and eight months. Spieth turns 20 years old on July 27, 2013.

This was the seventh playoff of 2013. This is the longest playoff since John Huh defeated Robert Allenby in eight holes at Mayakoba last year.

After a run of first-time winners ended with Steve Stricker treble and the Zach Johnson victory last year, Spieth adds to the long, first-time winner’s section at JDC.

In 29 events this season the weather has created a delay 15 times. This week it created a perfect golf course instead. Bravo, Mother Nature!

Only 12 of the 54-hole leaders or co-leaders have gone on to win the 27, full-field, stroke-play events on the season. Daniel Summerhays began the day with a two-shot lead and adds his name to this list.

Jordan Spieth and Scott Stallings claim the final two exemptions to The Open Championship next week. Time to find your passports, boys!

There have been 29 tournaments this season. The Stars and Stripes have now won 23 of them.

Spieth makes it 11 first-time winners in 2013. There have also been just two multiple winners, Woods (four) and Kuchar (WGC-Match Play; Memorial). Only Tiger Woods has defend a championship from 2012 (Arnold Palmer Invitational).

The winners on TOUR have been Johnson, D (28), Henley (24), Gay (41), Woods FOUR  times (37), Mickelson (42), Snedeker (32), Merrick (30) Kuchar TWICE (34),Thompson, M (27) Brown (29), Streelman (34), Points (36), Laird (30), Scott (32), G-Mac (33), Horschel (26), Ernst (22), Bae (26), Weekley (39) English (23), Rose (32), Duke (44) Haas (31), Blixt (29) and 19-year old Jordan Spieth.  The young folks (30 and younger) now have 12 victories; the 30-somethings have racked up 14 victories, and the “old folks” (40 and up) have three wins on the year. Stricker flew the flag for the over-40 crowd with his T10 finish. Thankfully, young Spieth turns 20 in 13 days so I won’t have to debate creating a “Teen” sub-section above; if he wins The Open, we won’t need it either!

A look at the players who finished in the top 10

Zach Johnson: He’s now 3-1 in playoffs in his career after coming up just short on Sunday. He’s now 1-1 in playoffs at the JDC after defeating Troy Matteson here last year. Johnson did everything gamers would have hoped this week except win the tournament outright but it’s not entirely surprising that he didn’t. Johnson came into this week with only one top 10, third at Colonial defending his title. Sound familiar? Heading into this week Johnson finished 71st at Memorial, MC at the U.S. Open and T58 at the Travelers. Johnson now has played 20 rounds in a row in the 60s at the JDC. That’s why he was in your lineup. His two best finishes of the season are defending his 2012 titles. Tread carefully.

David Hearn: After a run of T21, T18, T21, Hearn was entering the weekly conversation. After T44 and MC at the Greenbrier, he was exiting the weekly conversation. His P2 this week is his best finish on TOUR eclipsing his solo fifth at the Timberlake in 2011. Hearn makes his money on the greens and this will be a tough one for him to swallow as he missed a five-footer on the fourth playoff hole that would have won him the tournament.  In three previous events here, his best finish was T46 in 2005. In 21 events this season this is his second top 10 and seventh top 25 so there is optimism moving forward, especially at his national Open coming up the week after The Open Championship. This is only his third year on TOUR.

Martin Flores: Racked up his best finish ever on TOUR this week with T4 besting his solo sixth last season at Greenbrier. His length and scrambling are his two keys but his key this week was the flatstick as he finished 10th in strokes gained putting. He birdied four of his final six holes to round off the low round on Sunday, 63. In two previous events here Flores finished MC (2010) and T58 last year and had only played one of four rounds under par. This week he carded 67-67-69-63 and only made three bogeys. He’s now 13 of 20 on the season and he’s hit six of the last seven weekends. Pay attention.

Jerry Kelly: His short game is where he makes his living and he was sharp around the greens again this week highlighted by his sweet up-and-down par on No. 18 to post T4. His T4 his best finish since his T4 at the 2011 Wyndham Championship. Since missing back-to-back cuts in early March, Kelly has rattled off 10 of 12 and this weekend made it six in a row. He’s played this event four of the last five years but his best finish was only T18 in 2008 so form trumped history in this case.

Daniel Summerhays: He said Saturday after his excellent 62 that his plan this week was to make 30 birdies. He made 27. If he would have made 30, he would have won by two. We’ve seen time and time before that it’s almost impossible to back up a super-low round with something positive the following day and Summerhays added to that lore. His final round 72 included a stretch of four bogeys going out and a closing bogey on No. 18 that knocked him out of a playoff. For the second week in a row he couldn’t avoid the big number BUT for the second week in a row, he’s hit the top 10. He’s also tied his best finish on TOUR with his T4 (2012 Memorial, T4).

Patrick Reed: He didn’t’ hit many GIR this week, T70, but when he did, he putted lights-out. He finished the week first in putts per GIR and third in strokes gained-putting. He had made six cuts on the bounce before 70-72 MC last week at Greenbrier. He now has a round of 64 or lower (63 this week) in three of his last four tournaments. In that span, he’s also hit the top 10 twice (fifth FESJC and T7 this week). He’s young and he obviously has game but you have ride the roller coaster with the young’uns. HANG ON because you should be on this ride!

Matt Jones: Another player who has emerged in the last few weeks didn’t disappoint with his T7 finish this week, backing up his T2 last week at Greenbrier. This is his third top 10 in his last five events so don’t be late to the party next week! Jones has been a Rob Bolton favorite and his play recently shows us why. He’s solid in the all-around category and finishing T3 GIR this week helped him rack up 51 pars (T4) and TWO bogeys (T1). Check this: Jones made two bogeys last week and two bogeys this week. That’s four bogeys in 144 holes. THAT is hot golf! Jones reaffirmed his “horse-for-course status at the JDC as he’s now posted T7, MC, MC, fifth and T5 in his last five outings.

J.J. Henry: Usually an excellent ball-striker, Henry made his move this week by being the second-best hitting GIR. This led to 25 birdies (T3) and his second top seven (T7) in four events (T5, Travelers). When a ball-striker finds a hot putter good things usually happen and that was proven this week. Anyone that was riding him this week will appreciate his four birdies from holes Nos. 13 through 16 on Sunday to convert this top 10. He’ll defend at the Reno-Tahoe Open next month so put that in the memory bank.

Steve Stricker: Ho-hum, another top 10 again this year at JDC for Stricker. His putter wasn’t as sharp as usual but he gave all the Yahoo! gamers three solid rounds. He’s in a good place right now as he’s celebrating his 20th wedding anniversary by staying in the States so you won’t have to worry about fitting him into your lineup next week. You can save him for the WGC-Bridgestone, another course that takes plenty of birdies to contend.

Jim Herman: @goHermie backed up his closing round 65 at Greenbrier with 66-68-67-67 to hit the top 10 for the first time ever on TOUR. He shouldn’t have been a surprise to you as he was mentioned in my long-shot section of the preview column and Ryan O’Sullivan and Ned Brown placed them in group four of the GolfChannel.com Fantasy Game. He’s now seen the weekend in five events in a row. #goHermie!

“Hey, what ever happened to…”

I take a look back at what happened to the chalk

Keegan Bradley: His first trip to JDC saw him finish dead last in both putting categories (strokes gained and per GIR). His T34 in GIR didn’t help matters much either. I never worry about Bradley moving forward as his track record shows he’s a late-summer player.

Scott Stallings: Swung and missed here but Stallings is over the moon after Phil Mickelson’s victory at Castle Stuart put him into The Open Championship.  He was one of the many Yahoo! Group B choices that nobody ended up needing to use this week with Steve Stricker and Zach Johnson doing work. After three finishes in the top four in a row, the correction has now gone MC, T23, MC and T53 in his last four so that’s not too surprising. The surprising part was the MC this week at a course he should have torched.

Louis Oosthuizen: He’s now 0-2 here with only one round in the 60s so this might not be the place to mark him down in years to come. Sure, he has a farm and likes tractors, but he’s not shown his world class here yet. Kid in the candy shop.

Brendon de Jonge: Many thanks again to @unknowncomic2 for pointing out that I had de Jonge listed, erroneously, as my one-and-done selection for the week. He started the week on fire, 65-68 but 70-74 wont’ get it done in a tournament where 19-under got you in a playoff. The disappointing part was he only made 15 birdies on the week on a course where he finished T19, T7 and T7 in the last three. He still has 14 of his last 16 rounds here under par so I won’t be deterred next year.

Charley Hoffman/Morgan Hoffmann: First, Charley was -3.400 strokes gained-putting in round two. Even if you don’t understand that stat, you can probably guess his putter wasn’t helping much. He’s now made 14 of 18 cuts on the season and you should keep that in mind moving forward. Morgan, with TWO Ns, is proving he’s the real deal. He opened the week with an uninspiring 74 but fired 64 in round two with a QUAD. He backed that up with a bogey-free 63 on Saturday. Sunday he made five more bogeys but three bogeys held him out of the top 10. His last four tournaments have been T15, T23, T8 and T9. You had proper warning.

John Senden: The other half of my Yahoo! group B rubbish, Senden couldn’t back up last year’s solo fourth. He didn’t play poorly (70-69) as he only missed the cut by one but it was the same ol’ hindrance, the putter, that held him back. He now has three top 25s in 20 starts and zero top 10s. I took a chance and failed miserably because form usually trumps course history and this was true with Senden this week.



Coming Wednesday:

Rotoworld's Rob Bolton and I will be co-hosting a live chat Wednesday at NOON ET at Rotoworld.com. We will be breaking down the field at The Open Championship and answering your questions. I have to duck out early because my weekly golf draft league will be drafting from the high seas of Lake Monroe but Rob will answer all your inquiries! Simply return to the golf home page to join in on the chatter. Don’t forget that you can follow Rob (http://twitter.com/RobBoltonGolf) and Glass (http://twitter.com/GlassWGCL) on Twitter!