Thursday, 23 November 2017

Spieth Down Under

I watched Jordan Spieth's first round "down under" at the Australian Open. He got the worst of the weather, as the wind decided to blow and the greens firmed up. The morning wave had had their way with the course and Jordan was looking up at a leader at eight under par when he teed off.

Given the luck of the draw, Jordan, like the rest of the afternoon wave, had to tell themselves that they were in a marathon and not a sprint. There was no way the course was going to yield anything close to eight under. It was a survival test to be sure. And, despite bogeys on the first two holes, Jordan was able to do just that. He was able to grind his way to one under par. And, the way he was playing, I was left, as is so often the case with Spieth, wondering how the hell he managed to break par. 

The short answer is that he rolled in yet another twenty five footer for birdie on the last hole to get into red numbers. But it was the ugliest one under par round you were ever likely to see. He drove it crooked. He found bunkers, missed greens and makeable putts. But he still found a way to stay in the hunt. In fact, of the afternoon wave, there were few who scored better. His playing partner, Cameron Smith, who lost to Spieth in a playoff at the Aussie Open last year, did him one better with a birdie of his own on eighteen to go two under. But Smith had certainly not hit it as badly as Spieth.

This is the magic of Jordan Spieth. He knows has to play golf as well or better than anyone in the game right now. He manages, by hook or by crook, to make the best score he can possibly make every time he goes out there. It wouldn't surprise me in the least to see him make a score in the benign conditions tomorrow morning and be near the top of the leaderboard. 

There are no pictures on the scorecard. Spieth proves that to be the case as much as anyone ever has. He somehow knows how to win ugly. And it's a beautiful thing.