NORTON, Mass. (AP) — Jordan Spieth has spent his second season going to PGA Tour courses he had seen only once, each of them filled with various memories.
The best ones are in Boston.
Spieth didn’t win the Deutsche Bank Championship a year ago, though it sure felt like it. He played the final round on Labor Day with Phil Mickelson and turned in what he still calls the best round of his life. The 21-year-old Texan finished birdie-birdie-birdie-eagle for a 62.
The round was stopped by storms, and with no golf being played, the TPC Boston was buzzing about Spieth.
“This is the site the last time I was here of the best round of golf I’ve ever played,” Spieth said Thursday after his pro-am round. “Given the timing of it, what was at stake, the way I played that day … being back draws some really good memories.”
Spieth could use another performance like that.
He still hasn’t won this year, though he played so consistently well and gave himself so many chances the first half of the season that he is No. 9 in the FedEx Cup going into the second playoff event, which starts Friday.
Hunter Mahan now is the No. 1 seed after his win last week at The Barclays. Rory McIlroy is No. 2, followed by Jimmy Walker. Only the top 100 qualified for the Deutsche Bank Championship. The top 70 advance next week to the BMW Championship in Denver, and the top 30 go to the FedEx Cup finale at the Tour Championship.
Spieth couldn’t help but remember some of the shots during his practice round this week – the long birdie putt on 15 to match Mickelson, another long birdie on the 16th.
“On 17, I hooked a 3-wood and it was going in the junk,” Spieth said. “It hit a rock and 340 yards in the middle. I had 50 yards to the hole. Johnny Miller I guess said on the air that he was surprised I was playing aggressively because I hit driver. I hit a 3-wood. Toe-hooked it.”
And then on the 18th in his practice round Tuesday, he had the same length of the eagle putt he made last year, but from the other side of the hole.
“I remember exactly what the putt did – breaking slightly off to the right and at the end curving back in,” Spieth said.
Even better was how it ended.
He already was 7-under for his round when he drilled his tee shot on the par-5 18th as clouds gathered and thunder began to rumble. It was his first time playing with Mickelson, and the kid was putting on quite a show.
The Deutsche Bank was the final tournament before U.S. captain Fred Couples announced his two picks for the Presidents Cup. Spieth was being mentioned as a possibility, but this round clearly was an attention-getter.
“Walking up the 18th fairway, Phil said, `With what you’ve done today, you locked it up in my mind. Go ahead and finish strong. Don’t that that for granted. Finish this round off,'” Spieth said.
He finished in style, and Mickelson took over from there.
Coming out of the scoring area, Mickelson sent a text to Couples that said, “Dude, you’ve got to pick this guy.”
Spieth was the clubhouse leader during the storm delay, though it was clear it would not hold up. Henrik Stenson, Steve Stricker and Sergio Garcia were among those with enough holes to play on a rain-softened course. Spieth wound in a tie for fourth, five shots behind.
His family was in town, and he joined them on a drive to Providence, Rhode Island, to help brother Steven get moved it at Brown, where he plays basketball.
That’s when Spieth got a text of his own – from Couples.
“Freddie texted me before the tournament was over, on my drive to Providence,” Spieth said. “He said, `What a great round. Look forward to seeing you on the team. Don’t say anything except to your family, but it’s looking good.'”
Couples picked him. Spieth wound up at No. 7 in the FedEx Cup. He went 2-2 in the Presidents Cup. Six months later, he shared the 54-hole lead in the Masters.
All because of Boston?
Technically, no. Spieth would not have been in the FedEx Cup playoffs had he not won the John Deere Classic, which made him a PGA Tour member. That’s a pretty strong memory, too.
“To have this experience was because of the Deere,” he said. “Here is what sent it over the edge.”