Pebble Beach Recap: Did Jordan Spieth Choke?
No, Jordan Spieth did not choke.
It has become a popular practice in the last few years to call Jordan Spieth, as Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon of ESPN's PTI would say, a choking dog.
Ever since the 2016 Masters, as we watched the player we thought could be the next Tiger put multiple balls in the water at Augusta National's Par 3 12th hole, Spieth has had the "choke" moniker circling about his aura. However, this past weekend was anything but a choke job for a handful of reasons. And hey, that Masters was 6 years ago. Give the guy a break.
First, and completely outside of Jordan's control, Tom Hoge came in and won the damn tournament on the back 9. He birdied three of the final six holes to win, and even if Spieth had had a substantial lead heading into the final holes, going three under in the last six certainly constitutes a victory-worthy performance.
But beyond Hoge's stellar final frames, the question of Spieth choking is more about Spieth's performance, which was... just fine. Spieth turned in a final round 69 and held a 2-shot lead at various moments on Sunday. Despite an untimely bogey on 16, with a missed short putt, his 3-under round was just one back of Hoge's -4 and included some all-world shots, including one of just two birdies on the Par 3 12th hole on the day.
Now, that missed six-footer for par at 6 in and of itself was not shocking from Jordan Spieth, but Hoge still went on to win the tournament by TWO shots. So even if Spieth is clutch and drains that putt, he's still coming up short and we're still talking about Tom Hoge on Monday.
Jordan Spieth, despite that fateful day in Augusta in 2016 and the multiple swing and putting rebuilds since, remains one of the top players in the world and should be viewed as such. The chokes are deep in the past and the narrative has swung back to viewing Jordan as a top player on tour, worthy of the attention, praise and sponsorships that he has earned to this point in his career. He came on so strong, so young, that perhaps he hadn't developed the scar tissue to appreciate the gravity of the big stage. It turns out, he is human after all, and unfortunately is not the "next Tiger" (I don't think we're ever seeing that again). He's not immune to the occasional bad putt, but most certainly, he is not a choke artist.
He was in contention. Hoge won it. Looking forward to the Waste Management this weekend.
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