Jordan Spieth proved he was wise beyond his years during his victory. (Cohen/Getty Images)
By Travis Fulton, Director of Instruction, TOUR Academies
Jordan Spieth may be all of 19 years old, but the decision he made on the fifth playoff hole in Sunday’s John Deere Classic was a very veteran move. And it paid off handsomely.
Faced with the decision to play a high cut around the tree directly in his path or a low punch under the tree, Spieth wisely backed off, and chose the latter. It was the true percentage play. He went back to his bag, pulled out his 7-iron, and hit a perfectly executed low punch shot to the back edge of the green, from where he had an easy two-putt for his first PGA TOUR victory.
Spieth’s change in strategy was made much easier by the fact that both of his playing partners were in trouble. Zach Johnson, whose ball was just four feet away from Spieth’s, attempted a high cut shot around the tree, only to watch his chances of repeating as champion drown in the water. The third member of the playoff, David Hearn, was short of the green in two.
In his post-round press remarks, Spieth, who become the youngest champion on TOUR in 82 years, said his initial instincts were to play aggressively and bend an 8-iron around the tree from 175 yards. But the ball was just above his feet, and that would bring the water more into play. The one thing he couldn’t do there was hit it left -- not with both of his playing partners likely to make bogey. By opting to take the lower route, he eliminated the left miss, because in delofting the clubface with the forward lean of the clubshaft, it’s much easier to hold off the rotation of the face.
When hitting the ball higher, especially off of a hanging lie, there’s a greater chance that you’ll hang back and lean the clubshaft slightly away from the target, which creates a more leftward shot.
Of the two options -- the high cut or low punch shot under the trees -- I’d recommend the average golfer take the low track every time, simply because there’s much greater room for error. The higher shot requires a bigger swing and more clubhead speed, whereas the lower shot requires less swing, less clubhead speed, and less loft. You have much greater control over the clubface and the flight of the ball. To hit the low punch shot under the trees, just as Spieth did, follow these keys:
Make sure you choose a club that will keep you under the tree and its hanging branches. If you’re going to err, then do so on the side of less loft (i.e., a 6-iron over an 8-iron).
Move the ball back of center in your stance (one back back for a mid-iron) and -- here’s the key -- slide your entire body two to three inches forward until you feel a little more weight on your left foot and your sternum is just ahead of the ball. Maintain your natural side tilt as you move to your left -- do not tilt your upper body to the left, as that changes the plane of your shoulders and causes your attack angle to become too steep. Hit down on the ball with a steep attack angle, and you’re liable to hit it straight up in the air.
Lastly, make a three-quarter length arm swing with three-quarter tempo. The slower your swing speed, the less spin you’ll impart on the ball. Maintain the bend in your right hand through impact, as this keeps the shaft leaning forward, thus delofting the clubface. You’ve got to be strong with that wrist because you don’t want to be adding loft to the face at impact. Turn your chest through and try to hold the shaft down to a low finish position, with your hands by your left hip pocket.
Travis Fulton is the Director of Instruction for the TOUR Academies at TPC Sawgrass and the World Golf Village. For more information on the TOUR Academy, go to www.touracademy.com. For more game-improvement tips from the TOURAcademy instructors, download the new free TOURCaddie App for iPhone and iPad users at the App Store or www.AppStore.com/PGATOURCaddie. As an in-app upgrade for $9.99, you gain immediate access to more than 175 on-course tips.
Check out the top five shots of the week from the John Deere Classic and Utah Championship featuring Zach Johnson, Jerry Kelly, Jordan Spieth, Steve Stricker, and Will Wilcox.
Jordan Spieth hits his approach to No. 18 to put himself in position for victory. (Cohen/Getty Images)
By Dr. Gregg Steinberg, Special to PGATOUR.COM
When Jordan Spieth came to the 10th hole, he thought that winning the John Deere Classic was not in reach. He told his caddie that he wanted to make three birdies on the back nine to get a top-10 finish. Instead, Jordan pulled out six at TPC Deere Run -- including an amazing hole-out birdie on the 18th -- and went onto victory in a dramatic playoff.
Goals are essential to our motivation. Goals create the fire that drives our attention toward a specific target. Without goals to attain, our fire inside would be greatly diminished.
But more important than having goals, we need to adjust goals when needed. With Spieth, he adjusted his goals on the back nine to keep him motivated and inspired. Without that adjustment, he might not have been the first teenager to win a PGA TOUR event since Ralph Guldahl did it in 1931.
Here are my recommendations to you concerning setting appropriate goals:
1) Set realistic goals. Sometimes, young players will set unrealistic goals such as winning three AJGA events a year when they have not won any yet. While it is great to set challenging goals, keep them realistic or they will be demotivating.
2) Set goals that you can evaluate each month. Evaluation shows you whether or not improvement is occurring. If you are not reaching your goals, you may need to change your strategies.
3) Adjust your goals when needed. As Spieth did, you may need to adjust your goals to stay motivated. If you start a tournament with the goal of winning, but you play a poor opening round, you should adjust your target such as to finish in the top 10.
All successful players set goals, but most importantly, they have created a goal-setting program that keeps them inspired and improving.
Dr. Gregg Steinberg is a regular guest every Tuesday on “Talk of the TOUR” heard on the Sirius/XM PGA TOUR radio. He is a tenured professor of sports psychology and has been the mental game coach for many PGA TOUR players as well as top collegiate and junior golfer. Dr. Gregg is the author of the best selling golf psychology book, MentalRules for Golf, and you can get your autographed copy at drgreggsteinberg.com.
In the final round of the John Deere Classic from TPC Deere Run, Jordan Spieth earns his first PGA TOUR title, shooting a 6-under 65 and winning after defeating Zach Johnson and David Hearn in a five-hole playoff.
By PGATOUR.COM staff
With his victory at the John Deere Classic on Sunday, Jordan Spieth, who came into the week as a Special Temporary Member on the PGA TOUR, became a regular member. As a result, Spieth not only will be able to compete in this season's FedExCup Playoffs, his 614 non-member FedExCup points become retroactive and are added to the 500 points he earned for winning the John Deere. Spieth now ranks 11th in the FedExCup standings with 1,114 points.
Here's a breakdown of Spieth's tournament finishes and the FedExCup points that he now has accumulated.
|Farmers Insurance Open||CUT||--|
|AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am||T22||47.5|
|Puerto Rico Open||T2||135|
|Tampa Bay Championship
|Shell Houston Open||T50||18.5|
|Valero Texas Open||CUT||--|
|Zurich Classic of New Orleans||CUT||--|
|Wells Fargo Championship||T32||36.5|
|HP Byron Nelson Championship||T68||3|
|Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial||T7||82.5|
|the Memorial Tournament||T63||7.5|
|The Greenbrier Classic||T23||45|
|John Deere Classic||Won||500|
Zach Johnson reacts after his birdie chip on the first playoff hole rattled off the flagstick on Sunday.
By Craig DeVrieze, Special to PGATOUR.COM
SILVIS, Ill. – Zach Johnson’s 13th trip to the 18th tee at TPC Deere Run in the past two years turned out to be very unlucky.
Blocked behind a mighty oak tree on the fifth playoff hole of the 2013 John Deere Classic, Johnson attempted to punch-roll a 9-iron onto a putting surface he has seen plenty of times. He wound up in the water instead, as his approach ricocheted off a tree and landed in the hazard. His title hopes were gone.
The 18th also cost Johnson a win in regulation, when he said his feet sunk deeper than he would have liked in a fairway bunker and he fanned an approach to the right to set up a bogey.
For the record, that’s the very same fairway bunker from which the John Deere Classic board member from nearby Cedar Rapids hit a highlight reel shot to the win his self-named “fifth major” last year.
That winning 2012 shot, by the way, came on his second hole of sudden death vs. Troy Matteson, both played at the par-4 finishing hole.
“Yeah,” Johnson said, some sense of humor still slightly intact. “I don’t need to see that hole many more times.”
He will see it again, of course. And again. The John Deere will be a staple on the 37-year-old nine-time PGA TOUR winner’s schedule for some time, he indicated.
“I love this place, as you all know, and I am just appreciative to be able to play and represent this tournament,” he said.
Johnson said he might replay a missed opportunity or two from his closing round of 68 while on the charter to the Open Championship Sunday night. But he also said he will be ready for Muirfield and the year’s third major championship when the jet lands in Scotland.
“I feel like this is my profession and one thing you have to be is resilient,” he said. “I’ll get over it pretty quick. I’ll keep the mindset that I am playing well and ride it out. I’ll be fine.”
David Hearn will take the same attitude from his own missed opportunities to claim his first PGA TOUR win. The 34-year-old from Brampton, Ontario, next will tee it up in his national championship, the RBC Canadian Open, in two weeks.
“I’m obviously happy with where my game is at going into that,” he said following his second top-10 finish of the year. “So I’ll be happy to compete again.”
By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
SILVIS, Ill -- There are plenty of golfers leaving the Quad Cities saying, “Shoot, I could have gotten it to 19 under.” Many players teed off thinking it would take 25 under to win but the course dramatically changed on Sunday. It was by far the hottest day of the week. As the heat baked the greens the putting surfaces became much firmer and it was hard to judge the line of putts in the late afternoon at the John Deere Classic.
Prom: I first met Jordan Spieth three years ago at the HP Byron Nelson Championship when we wondered if Spieth’s good play and late tee time would allow him to make his high school prom. You could always see his talent and ability but Spieth would waste shots during a round, at times making bogeys with wedges into greens. Well, the teenager closed with five birdies on his final nine holes including an improbable hole out from the greenside bunker on the 18th. In Spieth’s words, “I got so lucky. I bounced balls off trees and that one hop hole out from the bunker. … I can’t believe it.” Every winner receives good breaks but the John Deere Classic is where good luck and talent collided on the same axis for Spieth.
Zach attack: Zach Johnson had control of the tournament when his putter went not just cold but frigid. Headed to the final nine, with the lead, you figured birdies at both par 5s and the drivable 14th would be enough to win. That reasoning was correct but Johnson hit a terrible wedge into the 10th and made par, then could not get up and down at the 14th. He did manage to birdie the 17th but that was with a two-putt after hitting the par 5 in two shots. Johnson had several other birdie opportunities before a bad hop into the fairway bunker on the 72nd hole was followed by a bad lie in the greenside rough, leading to bogey and the eventual playoff loss. Johnson seemed to hit good putts but chose the wrong lines, perhaps due to the change in firmness and speed of the greens.
Missed opportunity: Every player has a sad story to tell but David Hearn might be at the top of the list. He had less than 5 feet on the fourth playoff hole for victory and missed. Hearn hit the putt too hard, as it kissed the back of the cup and it did not drop. Faced with a slightly longer putt to force a sixth playoff hole, Hearn left the toe of the belly putter open and pushed the ball right. He was the very last player on the practice putting green late Saturday night; his shortcomings in the final round were not from a lack of practice.
Momentum: Steve Stricker was between clubs on the 203-yard 12th hole and chose wrong. His approach did not clear the bunker on the right, leading to bogey. That stopped all the momentum of the round. His future schedule is only partially known. Stricker says he will play in the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational and the PGA Championship. He has enough FedExCup points to qualify for the FedExCup Playoffs but does not know if he will enter. Stricker wants to play on the Presidents Cup team and will enter the FedExCup Playoffs depending on his status for the U.S. team.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here
Jordan Spieth, 19, became the fourth-youngest PGA TOUR champion on Sunday.
By PGATOUR.COM staff
Jordan Spieth captured the John Deere Classic on Sunday on the fifth playoff hole for his first PGA TOUR victory, becoming the first teenager to win since 1931. With the victory, he also instantly became a regular PGA TOUR member, meaning he will be eligible for the FedExCup Playoffs. He also moved to 11th in the FedExCup standings and qualified for this week's Open Championship at Muirfield.
Spieth, 19, carded a final-round 65 after holing out a bunker shot on the 72nd hole to finish at 19 under with defending champion Zach Johnson and David Hearn.
It appeared Hearn would win on the fourth extra hole, but he missed a would-be winning putt from 4 feet, 10 inches. That brought the three-man playoff to the fifth extra hole where Spieth hit an amazing approach shot from the rough to just over the green. He putted to within 2 feet and closed it out after Hearn missed an 8-footer for par.
Earlier, it seemed as if Johnson would close things out on the second playoff hole, when he stuck his approach to 12 feet. But his birdie putt slid just past and all three players made par, including Spieth, who got up-and-down from the right rough. Johnson also had a chip shot rattle off the flagstick for birdie on the first extra hole.
In regulation, Johnson grabbed a one-shot lead when he birdied the par-5 17th, two-putting from 64 feet to reach 20 under. But he found the left fairway bunker off the tee on the 18th. His approach came up short of the green in the rough, and he pitched his third over the green into the first cut and went on to make bogey 5 to finish at 19 under.
Hearn came to the 18th at 19 under, but knocked his approach in the thick rough guarding the green. He saved par, though, by draining a 5-footer for par.
Overnight leader Daniel Summerhays missed the playoff by one shot, bogeying the final hole after his approach plugged in the greenside bunker.
Fifth playoff hole: Par 4, No. 18
Johnson: Tee shot to right rough, possible tree trouble; approach hits tree and lands in water hazard; fourth shot from 112 yards to 15 feet; fifth shot in hole for bogey 5.
Spieth: Tee shot to right rough, possible tree trouble; second shot just over green on fringe; Third shot to 2 feet; Made par 4 for victory.
Hearn: Tee shot to right rough; second shot to 50 yards short of green in rough; third shot to 8 feet; putt miss; Made bogey 5.
Fourth playoff hole: Par 5, No. 17
Johnson: Tee shot in fairway; second shot from 254 to greenside bunker; shot to 10 feet; putt to 1 foot; Made putt for par 5.
Spieth: Tee shot to left rough; second shot in fairway; third shot from 74 yards to 60 feet; putt to 5 feet; Made putt for par 5.
Hearn: Tee shot in fairway; second shot from 254 near green in fairway; third shot to 4 feet, 10 inches; pulled off edge; Made putt for par 5.
Third playoff hole: 147-yard Par 3, No. 16
Johnson: Tee shot to 15 feet; Putt to 1 foot; Putt for par 3.
Spieth: Tee shot to short fringe, about 25 feet; Putt to 1 foot; Putt for par 3.
Hearn: Tee shot to 12 feet; Putt just missed on high side; Putt for par 3.
Second playoff hole: No. 18
Johnson: Tee shot in the fairway; Approach on green to 12 feet; Putt slides past to 1 foot; Putt made for par 4.
Spieth: Tee shot in the fairway; Approach to right rough; chip to 7 feet; Putt made for par 4.
Hearn: Tee shot in right rough; Approach on green within 25 feet; Putt to 2 feet; Putt made for par 4.
First playoff hole: No. 18
Johnson: Tee shot in fairway; 170 yards to over the green; chip rattles off flagstick to 1 foot; Made putt for par 4.
Spieth: Tee shot in fairway; approach to 25 feet on the green; putt to 1 foot; Made putt for par 4.
Hearn: Tee shot in right rough; second shot over green; chip to 5 feet; Made putt for par 4.
Jordan Spieth, 19, won the John Deere Classic on Sunday on the fifth playoff hole to earn his first PGA TOUR victory, which makes him eligible for the FedExCup Playoffs.
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By Craig DeVrieze, Special to PGATOUR.COM
SILVIS, Ill. – Steve Stricker is 100-under par at TPC Deere Run since 2009.
He wishes that were 105 under.
A winner of the John Deere Classic three times in succession from 2009-2011, Stricker caused a buzz around the place with his fifth birdie of the day midway through the final round.
At 16 under, he was three back of defending champion Zach Johnson and thinking about making it four John Deere trophies in five years.
A bogey at the par-3 16th stalled his charge and the 46-year-old Wisconsinite settled for a 5-under round of 66.
It wasn’t what he had in mind at day’s start, he said.
“I thought today I could shoot 61 or 60 like I have here in the past but you’ve got to do that without any mistakes,” he said. “I figured if I could get to 21, who knows.”
Didn’t happen. Now, the Stricker heads back to Wisconsin to celebrate his anniversary, but with a bit of angst over his decision at the beginning of the year to bypass this week’s Open Championship.
“I’m thinking that it wasn’t the smartest move maybe to miss the British Open but it’s my 20th anniversary this week and we have a family vacation planned with another family up north,” he said. “All good reasons to miss. I’ll be watching it intently and probably wish I’ll be there in some regard but I’m happy with my decision what I’m doing and I have been all year.”