How a search party, an unfavorable ruling and a missed 6-foot putt sunk Jordan Spieth on Saturday

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Tim Schmitt
·2 min read
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AUSTIN, Texas — For those who don’t know anything about golf — and there were many rambling around the grounds at Austin Country Club on Saturday — it would have been hard to tell who won and who lost as Jordan Spieth and Matt Kuchar stepped off the 18th green after their Round-of-16 match.

With thousands in attendance, Spieth—who played at the nearby University of Texas—received a rousing ovation as he hurried past the masses. Meanwhile, Matt Kuchar wide-clapped as he trudged across the green, soaking up the moment and the inevitable “Koooooch” that seems to follow him throughout the PGA Tour.

By virtue of a 6-foot putt on the 18th hole, Kuchar moved into the quarterfinals on Saturday, heading off to meet up with Brian Harman.

But the match’s climactic moment actually took place on the par-5 16th hole, when Kuchar pushed his second shot well right and needed to rally a search party to find it.

With the match all-square and Spieth safely 90 yards in front of the green, Kuchar looked to the crowd to help find his wayward shot. Even Spieth offered a look as time started to tick away.

Since the throng matted down the grass, when his ball was found he was offered a free placement, meaning a much-improved lie.

Fans watch Matt Kuchar and Jordan Spieth finish #16 during the Round of 16 of the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play golf tournament at Austin Country Club. Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

Fans help Matt Kuchar find his ball in the rough on No. 16 during the Round of 16 of the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play golf tournament at Austin Country Club. Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

Fans and Jordan Spieth, top right, help Matt Kuchar find his ball in the rough on No. 16 during the Round of 16 of the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play golf tournament at Austin Country Club. Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

After fans helped him locate his ball, Matt Kuchar hits from the rough on No. 16 during the Round of 16 of the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play golf tournament at Austin Country Club. Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

Kuchar still had plenty of work to do, however, as Spieth hit his third shot to inside seven feet. Kuchar responded with a solid wedge in, then held his breath as Spieth looked to take the edge.

Instead, Spieth missed the putt and the two left the 16th all square. Kuchar went on to win it on the 18th hole with a 6-foot birdie putt.

“I’m just sad that one had to end,” Kuchar said.

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