The Norman Transcript

Sports

March 13, 2014

Spieth returns to the course where career took off

PALM HARBOR, Fla. — Being back at Innisbrook is enough to make Jordan Spieth wonder if his entire season boiled down to three holes.

One was a two-putt par. The other was a tough flop shot from 50 feet that he knocked in for birdie on the 17th hole. The last one — perhaps the most important — was a bunker shot to 7 feet and a par putt on the final hole for a 1-under 70 to tie for seventh.

That was worth $148,893.

That was enough money to give him special temporary membership on the PGA Tour, key for earning a full tour card. Before holing out that chip, Spieth was projected to be $195 short of temporary membership, and who knows what would have happened if he didn’t nail it down that day at Innisbrook.

“The last three holes on Sunday here were three of the biggest holes I played all last year,” the 20-year-old Spieth said Wednesday. “I mean, none of the rest of it possibly would have happened if wasn’t able to hole a flop shot on 17 and got up-and-down out of the front bunker on 18.”

The “rest of it” turned out to be far more memorable than his tie for seventh in what his now called the Valspar Championship.

A playoff win at the John Deere Classic (after holing a bunker shot on the 72nd hole). A 62 in the final round at TPC Boston while playing with Phil Mickelson to secure a spot in the Tour Championship. A captain’s pick for the Presidents Cup, making him the youngest American ever in the matches. Seventh place in the FedEx Cup.

Spieth was reminded of the significance when he was flipping through channels Tuesday night and saw highlights of his finish from Innisbrook.

“I gave more fist pumps than I did at the Deere,” he said about his par putt on the 18th hole. “It was pretty cool to watch, and it was one of the biggest stretches that I’ve ever played.”

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