Golf: Spieth's run puts him ahead of Tiger at 22

World No. 2 Jordan Spieth's fist pump on the 18th green says it all - his third consecutive birdie giving him the Colonial title by three strokes over Harris English. That it was his first win in his home state of Texas made it even sweeter.
World No. 2 Jordan Spieth's fist pump on the 18th green says it all - his third consecutive birdie giving him the Colonial title by three strokes over Harris English. That it was his first win in his home state of Texas made it even sweeter. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

He blitzes back nine with six birdies to win by three shots at Colonial for an eighth Tour title

TEXAS • Jordan Spieth exhibited his short-game wizardry with six back-nine birdies to claim the Colonial tournament on Sunday for his eighth career PGA Tour victory before his 23rd birthday, an impressive run that is one better than Tiger Woods managed at that age.

The emphatic win not only gave Spieth, who turns 23 on July 27, his first win in his home state after three second-place showings in Texas, but the performance came in his third start since his back-nine collapse at the Masters last month.

He carded a closing 65 at the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth for a 17-under total of 263, good for a three-shot cushion over fellow American Harris English (66).

"To come back in only our third tournament and close it out is really, really special," Spieth said.

"I'm already looking back, thinking this will be a very important day to get back on top and be in the winner's circle.

"As a golfer and as a person I can always look back on this experience and say we were strong in what shouldn't have been tough times, but were tough times."

Only the late Horton Smith, with 14, recorded more wins than Spieth at 22 or younger.

Spieth, the world No. 2, opened with three straight birdies on his back nine and closed with three straight birdies. On his final three holes, he curled in a 20-foot birdie putt, chipped in from 40 feet and punctuated his performance with a 35-foot putt on the closing hole.

He also received a little help from the golfing gods. With a one-stroke lead on the 17th hole, Spieth received a break when his pulled tee shot glanced off the leg of a marshal and finished in the first cut of rough. He drilled his approach shot over the green and received a free drop from a grandstand.

"Seventeen was one of the luckiest holes I've ever had personally," he said.

"I hit a guy in the side and it goes in the first cut, get a drop and chip in. If I'm playing against me I'd be pretty upset."

He began the final round with a one-shot lead and had to withstand an early charge from English, who knocked in his 83-yard approach shot for eagle on the par-five opening hole.

Spieth, who also made lengthy par putts at Nos. 8 and 14, became the first Texan to win the Colonial since Ben Crenshaw in 1990.

He understands why golf fans and the media have talked at length about his performance at the Masters, where he threw away the Green Jacket with a quadruple-bogey at the 12th hole during the final round.

But Spieth kept telling himself over the ensuing weeks to tune it out the incessant babble. "Don't listen to the noise," he told himself.

The American will face top-ranked Jason Day of Australia and third-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland at the Jack Nicklaus-hosted Memorial tournament starting on Thursday.

All three have built confidence with recent wins.

"This is a big step for me to make a move on Jason's No. 1 reign," Spieth said.

"He has still got some space there but we're going to try to get closer."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 31, 2016, with the headline 'Spieth's run puts him ahead of Tiger at 22'. Print Edition | Subscribe