How Jordan Spieth’s ‘best swing of the week’ cost him the Pebble title

Jordan Spieth called it “the best swing of the week”.

The same swing ended up costing him the golf tournament.

Leading the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am by a shot on Tom Hoge late Sunday afternoon, Jordan Spieth stood on the par-3 tee box of Pebble 17and hole and dimensioned the shot: 185 yards to the flag, 175 to cover the front bunker. A day earlier, his 9 iron was carrying nearly 170 yards on the hole. So he only contributed one.

“It was really tricky because the wind kept coming back almost northeast and then it would go northwest, and with a cold wind here making a huge difference, more than anywhere else we play I think, ‘ said Spieth. “And I was just worried if I held him against that breeze that he might not carry, but we were pretty confident, and when I hit him I thought it was all over. I hit the dead center to the face, a high, grip-like straight ball; the wind just took it a bit. …

“In the air, I thought it might happen, and it hits the [bunker] lip and go into the bunker.

Spieth failed to up and down, his first bogey since the third hole, and fell back to 17 under. Meanwhile, Hoge came inches from the hole on the par-4 16and — the same hole where Spieth hit an eagle in last year’s third round — and followed up the birdie with a 22-foot birdie at No. 17 for a three-stroke swing and a two-stroke lead over Spieth.

Once Spieth made his last par-5 drive one-handed 18and, hit his next shot into the long bunker that adjoins the seawall, then missed his corner shot from 90 yards leaving it short of the green, his chances of winning were almost over. He finished second in solo, two behind Hoge, who folded twice en route to a stress-free closing par.

“The second half yesterday and the whole round today, I was nervous; I guess adrenaline is a better way to put it,” Spieth said. “I stayed positive. …I liked the way I hit the ball this week and felt like I put it better every day. So, I was looking at today as a low and it very well could have been.

Complete AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Scores

Spieth shot 63-69 on the weekend at Pebble while leading the field in strokes earned: tee-to-green (ShotLink was unavailable for rounds at Spyglass Hill and Monterey Peninsula Country Club). But he had almost five fewer shots approaching the greens on Sunday than in the previous round.

He also missed six greens in the final round, although Spieth, who once led by two after back-to-back birdies at Nos 11 and 12, mostly lamented a loose tee shot at the par-4 15and hole.

“I probably should have hit the iron on 15, and I hit the driver, and it took away one of my birdie chances,” said Spieth, who had to slice his approach around a tree and approached just short of the putting surface. “Other than that, I hit every shot really where I wanted to hit them, and generally that works really well for me, it just doesn’t quite do it today.”

Spieth, who missed the cut last week at the Farmers following hospitalization earlier in the week with a bacterial stomach infection, now has six top 10 finishes in 10 Pro-Am appearances – and back-to-back top 3 finishes after winning his only title here in 2017. He said he felt ‘almost 100%’ as he prepared for next week’s Phoenix Open and Genesis Open the following week, but he is still losing weight as he continues to struggle to keep food stable.

Not that he was looking for excuses.

“I didn’t feel like it affected any performance whatsoever,” Spieth said, before adding, “I mean, I’m going to look back and blame myself for not winning this tournament. “