When examining Jordan Spieth’s 2017 Open Championship victory, one must return to the scene at the 13th hole. More specifically the fan who took Spieth’s tee shot to the head.
Spieth, coming off a three-over front nine, needed to find a way to gain some momentum on Matt Kuchar who at 40, was starving for his first major victory.
The Best Pros Without A Major:
While he plays primarily on the European Tour, Lee Westwood, at age 43, is still the No. 52-ranked golfer in the world. He’s won 42 times around the world. With 76 majors under his belt and a top-20 finish at the Masters, Westy is the historically greatest player on this list. (Photo source/Wikimedia)
Seven times a winner on the PGA Tour, Matt Kuchar is the embodiment of cut-making steadiness and back-door top-10 finishes. It’s easy to forget, though, that with a bevy of major experience (45 starts), Kuchar has finished top 10 his four of the last six Masters. At 38, he looks poised to, at the very least, win a green jacket before his time on the PGA Tour is done. (Photo source/Wikimedia)
Paul Casey is one of those players you feel like won a major in the mid-2000s but actually didn’t. A pro for the last 17 years and a 16-time winner on Tour, Casey has nine top-10 finishes in 52 major starts. This includes three top-10s in the last five majors. In other words, he’s very close. (Photo source/Wikimedia)
There’s no doubt Patrick Reed has a competitive fire bar none and wants a major as badly as anyone on this list. Unfortunately, his ball flight, a sweeping draw, doesn’t work well at Augusta National, U.S. Open venues, or British Open venues. Simply, when Reed finds the right venue (likely at a PGA Championship), he could put the pedal down and run away with a major title. (Photo source/Twitter)
Rahm has burst onto the PGA Tour scene with a combination of power, touch, and confidence unseen since, perhaps, Tiger Woods in the late 90s. Already a winner on the PGA Tour, Rahm’s rocketing up the Official World Golf Rankings shows how this fearless player compares to his peers (quite favorably). Expect him to be among the top five in the OWGR in short order. (Photo source/Twitter)
Once deemed the most overrated golfer on Tour by his peers, Rickie Fowler has silenced critics with three wins in the last couple of seasons. And of course, he finished inside the top five at all four majors in 2014. That fact alone suggests Fowler is well-positioned to break through in a major. Certainly, his steely finish at the “fifth major” (The Players Championship) in 2015 suggests Fowler has the “extra gear” major winning requires. (Photo source/Twitter)
His tee shot on 13 went right and luckily, for Spieth, the ball ricocheted off the top of a fan’s head into an unplayable lie.
A fan who was nearby recalled series of events and how Spieth was so gracious:
“There was a bald man a few feet away who just took the ball right on the back of the head and it bounced down the hill. He went to the floor and I heard someone say ‘that’s Jordan’s ball’ and then quite a few people started rushing around looking for it.
A couple of minutes later Jordan walked up the hill and some people in the crowd were telling him he had hit someone on the head, so he walked straight over and apologized. He took time to say sorry and check if the man was all right.”
According to the rules of golf, a player is allowed a free drop if it hits off a spectator into an unplayable lie. Now if Spieth did not have his wits about him, he may have not asked for the ruling and tried to play it as it was.
After the round, Spieth talked about how he “got away with murder” on the par-4 13th. That unplayable lie turned into a drop on a favorable lie on the driving range behind the hill Spieth’s ball hit into. The only downside to the shot was the fact that he was blinded by the hill in front of him, but one would much rather have a good lie and a blind shot in most cases.
That bogey on 13 was what turned it around for the 23-year-old as he went five-under par in the next four holes. Some will credit the genius of Spieth for his knowledge in the rules of golf, but the true hero is that bald man’s head in the right place at the right time.