SOUTHAMPTON, NEW YORK | Jordan Spieth knows every possible yardage at Shinnecock Hills. And if Spieth, the 2015 US Open champion, doesn’t, then Michael Greller, his caddie, does. Between them they read putts, plot the distances, confront each challenge that the venue of the 118th US Open throws at them.
But Spieth didn’t know that the length of the playoff for the US Open had been changed. “It’s still 18 holes, right?” Spieth asked.
Actually Jordan, no it’s not. It’s two holes and has been for a few months. The USGA announced last winter that the playoff will be reduced from 18 holes on the Monday following Sunday’s conclusion of 72 holes to two holes on the Sunday evening.
“Two on Sunday,” Spieth said, a note of surprise in his voice. “I didn’t even know. What do I think of it?
“ … I guess strategy changes a little from the entire round,” Spieth continued, “but I honestly had no idea it had even changed. I was even looking at a weather forecast for Monday. Thinking, you know, what’s it look like if you happen to work your way into a playoff. Shows you what I know.”
It’s not what you know at golf so much as how you play the game and Spieth, something of the game’s golden boy with one victory in each of the Masters, the US Open and the Open Championship to his credit before his 24th birthday, knows how to play, particularly how to putt, as well as anyone.
He was asked if he regarded another player as a better putter than he. For a moment, he looked nonplussed. If he said no he would appear to be boastful. If he said yes he could be accused of not telling the truth. It was a tricky situation for Spieth but he came out of it well, just as he had at the 13th hole in the last round of the 2017 Open when everyone except him and Greller thought a wild drive would cost him a triple bogey at least and in fact it cost him no more than a bogey.
“No single name comes to mind,” Spieth said. “I’d still like to bet on myself.” Just when it sounded as though he was boasting he added, self-deprecatingly: “Sorry that doesn’t really answer your question.”