It was a great weekend in golf, and the top-ranked player in the world could only watch from his couch.
Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler combined for two thrilling victories on opposite sides of the Atlantic, with one club the key to victory for both players—the putter.
Fowler’s victory was important for a few reasons. First, it washes away the lingering bad taste from a missed cut at Chambers Bay. It also proves that he can indeed close under pressure, having birdied the 18th hole at Gullane GC to win by a stroke over Matt Kuchar. Also, the Scottish Open title vaults Rickie to the forefront of the conversation at St. Andrews.
Spieth’s win at the John Deere Classic should silence critics of his choice to play in the States the week before the British Open, however skeptics will continue to unfairly analyze that choice if Spieth finishes anywhere but first at St. Andrews. But confidence is the key to winning, and winning breeds confidence. What boosts confidence more than a playoff victory a day after firing the lowest round (61) of your career?
Both Spieth and Fowler rolled the ball beautifully en route to victory. Fowler, who finished at 12-under 268, ranked fifth in putts per GIR with 1.701 and birdied three of his last four holes to gain that one-stroke edge. Fowler only hit 47 of 72 greens for the week (ranking 59th in the field), but navigated the greens at Gullane GC spectacularly.
Rickie putted with a Scotty Cameron Newport 2.
Spieth’s victory seemed like destiny—46-year-old Tom Gillis was just along for the ride, chaperoning. Defeating Gillis in the sudden-death playoff didn’t take more than two routine pars on the 18th hole. But during regulation, Spieth finished first in putting average, second in putts per round (26.25), seventh in strokes gained/putting and sixth in average distance of putts made, and that includes a 31-putt first round.
Spieth is putting with the same flat stick he’s used since junior golf, a Scotty Cameron 009 prototype putter (which has quickly become the most victorious club of the 2014-15 season).