By Jay Betsill
Jordan Spieth captured his second PGA Tour victory of the season when he chipped in from a green-side bunker on the first playoff hole to defeat Daniel Berger in dramatic fashion and win the Travelers Championship.
The talk of last year’s event was Jim Furyk’s final round 58, but this year the buzz surrounded the great field. Huge galleries lined the TPC River Highlands as PGA Tour glamour names Spieth and Rory McIlory played in this event for the first time and Jason Day and Justin Thomas were also on hand.
Spieth’s first PGA Tour win came by virtue of a hole out from a green-side bunker in the 2013 John Deere Classic, so this was familiar territory for the Dallas resident.
“It was a battle, got off to a great start and the putter kind of let me down for most of the round,” Spieth said on CBS Sports. “I got really lucky to have it hit the tree and go into the fairway was a fortunate break. I could hit it to where it was below the hole and at least try and force another playoff hole. For the bunker shot to go in, that was awesome. I don’t know if I’ll ever have a moment like that again.”
Berger won two weeks ago at the FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis and began the day three shots behind leader Spieth. He had clawed his way into a tie for the lead on the back nine as Spieth had trouble on the greens.
His reaction to seeing Spieth’s bunker shot go in?
“It’s just Jordan doing Jordan things,” Berger told CBS Sports. “I played great today, so I’m not going to be too upset. Obviously I wanted to win, but I’m just kind of speechless right now.”
One PGA Tour golfer was not surprised with Spieth hole out as Justin Thomas “called the shot” moments earlier on Twitter.
Spieth led the Travelers Championship wire-to-wire, but the round of the day on Sunday belonged to McIlory as he fired a 64 with his third different putter in three days.
“I just wanted to mix it up and go back to something that looked a little more familiar,” said McIlroy on espn.com. “That style of head or that head shape I’ve had the most success with. So I went back to that today to see if I could conjure up any good feelings, and it felt pretty good.”
McIlroy hit 17 of 18 greens in regulation and guaranteed that he would return to play in the Travelers Championship.
“This is one of the best courses on tour,” he told ESPN. “It’s a par-70. It’s fun. You can make a lot of birdies. But if you put yourself in the wrong spot, you can make bogeys pretty quickly, as well. The crowd out there today, I teed off before 9 a.m. on a Sunday morning, and they were really good. It was a pleasure to be here this week. It was great to play in front of such great crowd. I’ll definitely be back.”
Spieth’s win earned him $1.224 million and 500 FedEx Cup points. He also became the second youngest to win 10 times on the PGA Tour, just behind Tiger Woods and just ahead of Jack Nicklaus.
Next up on the PGA Tour is the Quicken Loans national at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm. Notables in the field include Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas, Nelson champ Billy Horschel, Players Championship winner Si Woo Kim and defending champion Billy Hurley III.