CARNOUSTIE, SCOTLAND | Stop me if you’ve heard this one before …
A guy walks into a Carnoustie barbershop and asks for a haircut. Nothing special. Just the usual.
He walks out £20 lighter in his pocket book and wearing it high and tight on the sides.
The guy doesn’t mention he’s playing in the Open Championship in town and the barber doesn’t ask.
No joke. That guy – Jordan Spieth – is tied for the Open Championship lead entering the final round Sunday at Carnoustie with a chance to become just the seventh player since the end of World War II to win the Claret Jug in consecutive years.
If you’re wondering, Peter Thomson, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson, Tiger Woods and Pádraig Harrington also kept the Jug for two years at a time.
But about the haircut …
“My hair got a little long, and I needed to get a haircut, so I did this morning,” Spieth said Saturday afternoon following his third-round 65 that vaulted him into a share of the 54-hole lead with Kevin Kisner and Xander Schauffele.
“It was like a £9 haircut, and I tipped them.”
Fair to say it’s a tad on the short side around the ears.
“It was intended to be what I normally get, and instead he went a little shorter. Very British haircut. A little shaved on the sides, a little longer on top. It is what it is. Summertime, it works out,” Spieth said.
Things have a way of working out for Spieth, who arrived in Scotland without a top-20 finish in his previous seven starts, including three missed cuts. If panic buttons weren’t being pushed by outsiders, fingers were hovering.
It seems like a silly notion now.
Were it not for a four-hole spell at the end of the first round, the engraver could be readying for an early start on re-etching Spieth’s name on the Claret Jug. He was 3-under par through 14 holes Thursday but played the four-hole closing stretch in 4-over par, signing for 72.
That forced Spieth to play his way back into the championship Friday when he shot 67. He sent the equivalent of a cannon shot across the property Saturday when he drove the par-4 first green then rolled in the putt for an eagle on a day when attack mode was trending at wind-starved Carnoustie.
Walking to the first tee, Spieth asked caddie Michael Greller whether he should hit a driver or take the more conservative approach with iron, taking bunkers out of play and leaving nothing but a short shot into the green. Greller voted for conservative.
Spieth asked his coach Cameron McCormick, “How about I just send it on No. 1?”
McCormick said, “I put my chips behind anything you decide always.”
If the weather forecast is accurate and the wind blows more than 20 mph through the final round, Spieth knows the first three days were a gentle prelude to what remains.
“We’ve got pretty much a new golf tournament tomorrow,” he said.
“It’s ideal for Carnoustie to have a bunched leaderboard and 25-mph winds on Sunday because it means that someone could post a score from six hours before and potentially win the golf tournament tomorrow. You’re in a scenario almost like the U.S. Open this year at Shinnecock, like that Saturday at the U.S. Open-type scenario tomorrow.
“So I’m not ahead of myself at all. I just wanted to give myself a chance after the first round, and I’ve done well over the (past) two days.”
And with a proper haircut, too.