Golf Tidbits: Spieth displays fire, ice in Florida

Philadelphia, PA ( - Jordan Spieth has won two PGA Tour events, both of which came after he reigned in his fiery side and let the ice water flow throw his veins.

Spieth holed a 28-foot birdie effort on the third playoff hole Sunday to beat his 2014 Ryder Cup partner Patrick Reed and Sean O'Hair.

The 21-year-old Spieth had a chance in regulation to win, but missed a 7-foot birdie putt at the 15th. Over the next three holes, Spieth showed off a short game that is quickly gaining recognition as one of the best on tour.

Spieth missed the green on each of the last three holes, but made par all three times. He chipped to three feet on 16 and six feet on 17. Neither were easy shots, but he saved par nonetheless.

"I would rank those definitely in the top five I've ever had given the lies and the scenario and the green to work with," Spieth said of his par saves on 16 and 17.

On the final hole of regulation, Spieth found sand off the tee, then hit a poor approach. As he left the bunker, Spieth was yelling at himself and seemed overly frustrated.

As he walked to his third shot, Spieth calmed himself. He hit a nice chip, but still left himself 12 feet for par. Not to worry, Spieth poured that putt in to become the third man in the three-man playoff.

All three players made par on the first two playoff holes, with O'Hair having the best chance to win. His birdie effort on the second playoff hole, No. 16, lipped out after Spieth and Reed missed their birdie chances.

The trio moved to the par-3 17th for the third extra hole. After Reed and O'Hair failed to make birdie, Spieth drained his birdie try for the win.

His two official PGA Tour wins have come in playoffs. In his first victory, Spieth holed a bunker shot just to get into the extra session.

His fiery side seems to get the better of him at times, but there are moments of clarity when Spieth is able to dial in his focus and come through in the clutch.

The ability to balance the two will be among the determining factors of how good he will be going forward.

This victory puts Spieth in a group of four players - along with Tiger Woods, Robert Gamez and Sergio Garcia - who had two PGA Tour wins before the age of 22. Spieth has two other titles (Hero World Challenge and Australian Open), both of which came in dominating fashion.

Maybe the thing that helped Spieth the most in the playoff was the fact that Reed was there, too. They went 2-0-1 as teammates at the Ryder Cup last year, and what more could you want than to beat a good friend?

"When he got that one up and down and we were going to 17 ... I certainly didn't like that. I didn't like him still in the playoff," Spieth joked. "You can't count him out. He's just a competitor. He's fiery. Finds a way to get it done."

Spoken like a man who breaths plenty of fire of his own.


The old man of Sunday's playoff, 32-year-old Sean O'Hair, has been trying to claw his way back into contention after a couple of years without much success.

The high point for O'Hair came in 2009. Among his nine top-10 finishes that season were a win (his fourth), a second-place finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where Tiger Woods rallied to beat him, and a third-place finish at the Tour Championship.

That season was topped by his first United States team appearance as he competed in the Presidents Cup.

In the five seasons that followed, O'Hair had a win and another runner-up finish. Those were among the few high points.

The last two seasons were the low points. He had a single top-10 finish in 47 PGA Tour starts, and only four top 25s in that time. O'Hair needed to go to the Tour Finals Series to retain his card after each of the last two seasons.

This season, he has made nine cuts in 10 starts and already has tallied three top-25 finishes. Those might seem like baby steps to some, but they are big improvements for the four-time PGA Tour winner.

O'Hair has improved nearly 300 spots in the world rankings thanks to his solid play, from No. 474 to start the year to No. 188 this week. He is still a long way from his career-high ranking of No. 12, but at least O'Hair is once again ascending the rankings as opposed to descending them.

The baby steps have done one thing for O'Hair - he has nearly earned enough money to secure his tour card for 2016. That is enough progress for now, but he doesn't want to stop there.


* Sunday's playoff was the eighth of the season on the PGA Tour. There have been extra sessions in each of the last four weeks and five of the last six overall. The only shame of Sunday's playoff was how many people missed the drama while tuning into the NCAA selection show.

* George Coetzee claimed his second European Tour title in South Africa on Sunday. Both of his wins have come in his homeland, but this was more special as it came on his home course. He grew up playing Pretoria Country Club, so he knew when to be aggressive and when to dial it back.