By Sam McPherson
A couple weeks ago Jordan Spieth watched the top-ranked Jason Day win The Players Championship from the sidelines. This past week the world’s second-ranked player finally played four rounds of stellar golf of his own, winning the Dean & DeLuca Invitational. It was his first victory since early January. With his well-publicized struggles still making headlines, Spieth put together four straight rounds in the 60s to score 17-under par, good enough for a three-shot victory at the Colonial Country Club in Ft. Worth, Texas.
After playing nine holes at even par on Sunday, Spieth opened and closed the back nine with three straight birdies, respectively. That included a long birdie putt on the tournament’s final hole when all he needed to win was a triple bogey. Just like that, the Spieth who won the first two legs of the Grand Slam in 2015 is back. And with the U.S. Open fast approaching, the timing could not be better.
At the AT&T Byron Nelson, in between The Players and this win, Spieth shot a 74 on Sunday to keep alive the questions about his mental game. With this weekend’s effort, though — shooting back-to-back 65s on Saturday and Sunday — Spieth put those questions to rest, at least for now. His Sunday score was the second-best mark of the day, besting runner-up Harris English’s last-round effort by one stroke. Spieth earned $1.206 million with the victory.
English ended up finishing second overall at 14-under, on the strength of 22 birdies. Third-place finishers Ryan Palmer and Webb Simpson each shot 68 to tie at 13-under par. All top-five finishers, including Kyle Reifers who finished at 12-under, posted four straight rounds in the 60s, and that made a huge difference in the final tally. Four golfers tied for sixth place, three strokes behind Reifers, including Jason Dufner and Matt Kuchar. Defending champion Chris Kirk tied for 15th place at 7-under par, after shooting 69 on Sunday.
Spieth minimized the mistakes and bogeys at Colonial, showing a consistency in his game that’s been lacking the last few months as Spieth struggled to keep his rounds under par. This was the first time since the Hyundai Tournament of Champions that Spieth shot four rounds under par. Not coincidentally, that was the last time he won.
With two events left before the U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club in Pennsylvania on June 16-19, the world’s best golfers are ramping up their preparations. For Spieth, this win gives him confidence going into The Memorial at Muirfield Village in Ohio, and reminds the rest of the golf world that the 22-year-old kid can still close.
Next On The Tee: The Memorial Tournament
The Tour heads north to Dublin, Ohio, and The Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club. The purse for this prestigious event — founded by golf legend Jack Nicklaus in 1976 — is bigger than most PGA events. Of the $8.5 million total, approximately $1.53 million will go to the winner. David Lingmerth, the defending champion, will face seven of the top 10 golfers in the world, including all of the top five: Jason Day, Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler. Eight former champions are also in the field.
Nicklaus wanted to create a special tournament, like the Masters, to honor the region where he grew up and learned to love the game of golf. To achieve this kind of status among players and fans, The Memorial is one of only five PGA Tour stops that holds “invitational” status. Any golfer who has won a PGA Tour event in the last year is invited, along with winners of the four majors and The Players Championship dating back five years. Other golfers can qualify as well, though these are the most straightforward paths.
This makes for an all-star field of sorts, limited to 120 players — many of whom have won a tournament in the last year. Beyond recent winners, the field also has eight of the top 10 from both the FedExCup points and current PGA Tour money lists.
Tiger Woods holds the record for most wins (five) in Memorial history. Woods famously shot an 85 in the third round last year, though, the worst score of his professional career. The Memorial Tournament scoring record is held by Tom Lehman (268), set in 1994.
The Muirfield Village Golf Club course plays 7,392 yards long and is a par 72.
Favorites: Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth
Players to Watch: Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose, Webb Simpson
Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering baseball, football, basketball, golf and fantasy sports for CBS Local. He also is an Ironman triathlete and certified triathlon coach. Follow him on Twitter @sxmcp, because he’s quite prolific despite also being a college English professor and a certified copy editor.