If Jordan Spieth’s performance at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, on the last weekend in May is any indication of what could happen in his U.S. Open title defense at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club in two weeks, look out.
Spieth put on a spectacular second-nine display of short-game wizardry to win the Dean & Deluca Invitational by three shots over his 2011 USA Walker Cup teammate Harris English. It was Spieth’s first win as a professional in his home state of Texas.
Spieth’s eighth PGA Tour victory also moved him past Tiger Woods (seven) into second place for most victories before the age of 23. Horton Smith won 14 titles from 1928-30.
More importantly, Spieth’s mojo seems to have returned after his disappointing finish in the Masters, where he was poised to claim a second consecutive Green Jacket but gave up a five-stroke lead with nine holes to play and paved the way for eventual champion Danny Willett. After taking a few weeks off, Spieth then missed the cut at The Players Championship and then carded a final-round 74 to fall out of contention in the AT&T Byron Nelson Classic in Irving, Texas, the event that gave the two-time U.S. Junior Amateur his first sponsor’s exemption as a 16-year-old.
Everything changed across the Metroplex at the venue four-time U.S. Open champion Ben Hogan called home: Colonial Country Club.
Spieth, who carded a 5-under 65 to grab the 54-hole lead, parred every hole on the outward nine, a stretch that included a 32-foot putt on the par-3 eighth hole that might have saved the round.
“Very fortunate to keep momentum there,” said Spieth, who was 18 for 21 in scrambling for the week.
Spieth started the second nine with three consecutive birdies, but it was another par save, this time from 14 feet on the par-4 14th that loomed large. After converting a 20-foot birdie at the par-3 16th, Spieth’s drive on the par-4 17th ricocheted off the lower leg of a marshal and into the first cut of rough instead of much deeper grass. Spieth signed a glove for the volunteer before air-mailing the green with his 9-iron approach. He took a free drop from the grandstand and promptly pitched in for birdie to push his lead over English to two.
He then finished off the victory in style by making a 30-footer for birdie on the 72nd green to shoot 5-under 30 on the inward nine for a second-consecutive 65 and a 17-under total of 263.
Webb Simpson, the 2012 U.S. Open champion, tied for sixth with 1997 U.S. Amateur champion Matt Kuchar, four strokes behind Spieth.
Triple the Wins, Triple the Fun
Right now, it seems that the only way Ariya Jutanugarn doesn’t win is if she doesn’t enter a tournament.
The 2011 U.S. Girls’ Junior champion captured her third consecutive victory on the LPGA Tour, carding a final-round 67 to beat Christina Kim by five strokes in the inaugural LPGA Volvik Championship at Travis Pointe Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Jutanugarn, 20, of Thailand, swept all three May events on the LPGA Tour and became the first to win three in a row on the circuit since two-time U.S. Women’s Open champion Inbee Park in 2013. Nobody on any tour – men’s or women’s – has notched their first three career wins in consecutive fashion.
Prior to this remarkable run, some wondered if Jutanugarn could close the deal. She led the ANA Inspiration late in the final round, but the 20-year-old made three consecutive bogeys to allow a hard-charging Lydia Ko to earn her second major title.
Now Jutanugarn looks like she may never lose again. She got her breakthrough win at the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic in Prattville, Ala., then another in Williamsburg, Va., at the Kingsmill Championship Presented by JTBC, and now in Michigan.
Several players, including 2010 U.S. Women’s Amateur runner-up Jessica Korda, started the day with a good chance to overtake the 54-hole leader, but Jutanugarn pulled away on the second nine with four birdies. Three of her four rounds were bogey-free.
Fellow U.S. Girls’ Junior champion Lexi Thompson (2008) tied for sixth, her sixth top -10 finish in 2016.
Colin Montgomerie, the 2014 U.S. Senior Open champion, came within a couple of strokes of defending his title last year in Sacramento, Calif. This past weekend, he came up three strokes short of winning his third consecutive Senior PGA Championship. Despite a final-round 67 at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Mich., Montgomerie couldn’t catch 2008 U.S. Open runner-up Rocco Mediate. Mediate posted a Sunday 66 that sealed the wire-to-wire victory with a winning total of 19-under 265.
Bernhard Langer, the 2010 U.S. Senior Open champion, finished third a week after winning the Regions Tradition, the first of five major championships for players 50 and over.
David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.