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May 24 2013

3:39 PM

'Gravity' costs Spieth penalty stroke

Watch Jordan Spieth's bounce-back birdie at the seventh hole

By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM

FORT WORTH, Texas -- An unfortunate break at the sixth hole cost 19-year-old Jordan Spieth one stroke in Friday's second round of the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial.

But a bounce-back birdie on the next hole left him feeling upbeat about his chances entering the weekend.

Spieth, the Dallas native, had reached the par-4 sixth 3 under on his round after starting the day on the 10th tee. His approach shot to the sixth landed 20-1/2 feet from the pin. It also landed in a footprint left from one of the earlier players walking off the green.

The ball was in a precarious spot, in between some spike marks. Spieth marked his ball, then placed it in the correct spot. As he took his practice strokes, Spieth saw the ball "start to tilt" due to its proximity with one of the spike marks.

Spieth waited for the ball to stop, then grounded his putter. Right as he did, the ball tumbled down into one of the spike marks.

"My putter did not cause it to move," Spieth said. "I know that for a fact. But it was just a bad break in timing.

"If I had hit the putt two seconds earlier, it would haven't done that. If I waited two seconds longer, I wouldn't have ground my putter."

After consulting with one of his playing parters, Spieth spoke with rules official Stephen Cox, and ultimately called a one-stroke penalty on himself for violating rule 18-2b.

"It's an unfortunate ruling," Spieth said. "That's just how it goes."

The change in rules two years ago that prevent penalties on players when the ball moves due to wind conditions while at address did not apply in this case. The rule specifically states that "gravity is not in itself an element that should be considered" for exception to rule 18-2b.

"Unfortunately for him, gravity was the cause of that ball moving after address," Cox said.

"That's only if the wind blows it, or a dog runs over it, or a squirrel knocks it," Spieth said. "I guess gravity isn't part of that. But what the PGA TOUR officials told me after the round is they are looking into changing that."

Indeed, Cox said that 18-2b is under evaluation.

"There is certainly talk within the game at the moment that a little bit down the line, that we may well get rid of 18-2b all together," Cox said. "But this is the way it is now."

Spieth acknowledged that he was "pretty upset" about the lost stroke, but he bounced back quickly. His approach shot at the seventh hole rolled a foot to the pin for a bounce-back birdie, his second of the day.

"No. 7 was the most important hole I've played all week so far today," Spieth said.

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