There’s really no way to describe a five-hole stretch from Jordan Spieth other than to say: impossible.
Spieth was already reeling in the final round of the Open Championship when he stepped up to the 13th tee. His three-shot lead over Matt Kuchar had vanished, he’d hit as many bogeys already this round as he’d hit in the three previous days, and he was missing the kind of short putts that are usually automatic. And then he teed off at 13 and immediately snarled, “Jesus,” putting his hands on his head and then pointing hard right. Hard, hard right.
The shot fired into the thick gorse, and an armada of fans swarmed over it. As marshals tried to maintain order, airborne cameras tried to make some sense of the chaos below.
The ball had ended up a hundred yards right of the fairway, on the far side of a hill so steep that Spieth had to edge down sideways. He attempted to move fans out of the way ahead of him, but finally determined that hitting off such a steep slope would be impossible.
Spieth ended up needing to take an unplayable lie, which allowed him to walk backward and drop his ball … far, far backward, so far that he ended up on the practice range. But because of golf’s arcane rules guiding drops and line of sight to the hole, Spieth found himself wending around camera towers, portable toilets, equipment trucks, fans and pretty much every other backstage element of a tournament that doesn’t ever end up on camera. Some 20 minutes later, Spieth finally ended up dropping his ball about 75 yards below the top of the hill.
As Kuchar took a knee out on the fairway, Spieth continued to determine his options. The gargantuan hill between the practice range and the 13th flag meant Spieth had no idea where to aim or how to place his shot. His caddie, Michael Greller hiked up to the top of the hill, and he and Spieth shouted back and forth to try to clear off the top of the hill. Spieth popped his shot over the top of the hill, ending up between two bunkers on the edge of the green … a far, far better location than he could have reasonably expected.
Spieth managed to recover in time to card only a bogey and end up one stroke behind Kuchar (who parred) heading to the 14th. Total time between first and second shots: 23 minutes.
For Spieth, it could have been a scar lasting a long, long time. And it did, at least until he stepped to the 14th tee and nearly holed his tee shot, made the birdie putt to put him back in a tie for the lead …
… and then drained a 48-footer for eagle at 15 …
… and then drained another birdie bomb at 16 …
… and another birdie at 17, putting Spieth at 12-under, two strokes ahead of Kuchar.
Decent response to maybe the worst drive he’s ever hit?
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.