Grades: Jordan Spieth cruises at Pebble Beach Pro-Am, picks up win No. 9
The golf on Sunday at Pebble Beach was relatively boring, which was just fine for Spieth
Jordan Spieth took a page out of the old Tiger Woods playbook: Crush the field Thursday through Saturday and make them weep on Sunday. Spieth hit fairways and greens like a robot on Sunday, and he forced a field that trailed him by six to come touch him. They couldn't. They didn't even get close.
Spieth shot a 2-under 70 on Sunday to finish at 19 under on the week and round out his ninth career PGA Tour victory at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. He beat runner-up Kelly Kraft by four. It was boring, but it was supposed to be. This is how a lot of Spieth's wins are going to go. There is nobody better on the tour at mentally keeping distance between himself and his competitors.
Over the first three days, it was a blazing-hot putter that set Spieth up for the victory. He had 13 one-putts on Saturday and gained over four strokes on the rest of the field on the greens on the weekend alone.
"The hole started to look pretty big to me on the back nine [on Saturday]," Spieth told CBS Sports' Jim Nantz. "It's all speed work -- not thinking too much about the stroke, dialing in the speed ahead of time, naturally training my hands for the speed of the greens and then just trying it hit around that spot."
On Sunday, despite not having his same magic touch on the greens as the first three days, Spieth flipped the script and played defense an SEC coach would be proud of for 16 holes. Then he delivered the dagger to Kraft and third-place finisher Dustin Johnson (14 under) late on No. 17.
"Boring golf," Spieth told CBS Sports' Jim Nantz after hitting 16 of 18 greens in regulation. "I apologize, but that was kind of the game plan. [Caddie] Michael [Greller]'s going, 'Keep playing boring golf.' I'm like, 'I don't like playing boring golf.'
"I don't remember watching it, but I remember watching highlights of Tiger trying to hold his bogey-free round when he had such a big lead," said Spieth. "That was kind of his goal. That was mine today was, 'hey, let's try and keep a clean card, let's shoot 3 under.' That's exactly what we were trying to do."
Boring golf wins tournaments, and now Spieth has a whole trophy case full of them. He joined Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy on Sunday as golfers who have won nine times in their first 100 events as a pro (this was Spieth's 100th event). He also joined quite a crew when it comes to nine wins at the age of 23 or 24.
It was Woods whose style he evoked all week. If you weren't paying attention for all 79 of Woods' victories, here is how they went: Play well on Thursday. Throw haymakers on either Friday or Saturday. Close with defense on Sunday. Check, check and check. Spieth tossed up a vintage Big Cat performance at the site of maybe Woods' most famous win at the 2000 U.S. Open.
"This is a bucket place list place to win," said Spieth. "Here, Augusta National, St. Andrews, I mean there's only a few in the world. It feels really special, it was amazing walking up the 18th green knowing that we were going to win. It's just such a unique position, I tried to soak it in.
"It's unbelievable of winning at Pebble Beach," Spieth told Nantz. "We had a fantastic weekend after a horrid first couple days we had to just trek through. It was a beautiful setting for the finish.
A finish that has Spieth, who said he likes to win before the Masters, already thinking about Augusta. Grade: A+
Here are the rest of our grades for the Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Bill Murray (T14): Murray gets high marks just for having the stones to wear overalls and a Cubs pinstripe hat on a golf course as prestigious as Pebble Beach. Grade: A
Phil Mickelson (65): After a 70-72-69-33 start, Mickelson could not have ejected any harder down the stretch. Lefty shot a 44 on the back nine on Sunday that included a double and quadruple bogey for a 77 overall on Sunday. He ended up finishing last out of all 65 golfers that made the Saturday cut. He confirmed what we all believe about Mickelson. He won't always win, and he won't always play well. But he'll sure as hell always be interesting. Grade: D
Phil Mickelson has played 630 competitive holes at Pebble Beach in his career at this event.— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGC) February 12, 2017
Today was his first quadruple bogey/worse.
Dustin Johnson (3rd): Johnson had maybe the quietest third-place finish he has ever had. He actually out-played Spieth on the weekend (10 under to 9 under), but Spieth had already built a commanding enough lead that it didn't matter. I will say this about D.J., there is nothing more majestic than watching that dude swing that swing on the coast of the Pacific Ocean at one of the prettiest golf courses in the world. Put me down for him to win the U.S. Open here in 2019. Grade: A
Jason Day (T5): Day co-led the field in birdies with 23, but a disastrous 75 on Saturday was his ultimate undoing. Still, the rest of it was impressive.
"I felt pretty positive about how my game was progressing," said Day. "A couple bad breaks [on Saturday] and put on top of it a bunch of mistakes.I didn't play the way I usually play, and I felt like deep down inside I was close to having a really good round.
"[My mental game is] getting there, it's not quite there. Once again, I'm just trying to work out the hitting part and once I get that down, get back to not thinking so much about the technique, and get back to really hitting the shots and focusing on the target, that should tidy itself up. I think that the short game is coming around nicely, the putting and the chipping, and it's just baby steps from here."
Day will join Spieth and Co. in Los Angeles next week for the Genesis Open. Grade: A-
Justin Rose and Justin Timberlake (T24): As a celebrity pairing, these two were stupendous all week. Taking selfies during each other's shots, catching and tossing each other golf balls behind their backs and generally acting like they were having about as much fun as two very rich very successful people should have at Pebble Beach.
Both came off as incredibly likable, and both are exceptional (at their respective levels) at golf. Timberlake being a great golfer, by the way, is my annual reminder of just how unfair this world is. Grade: B+
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