‘What’s the harm in that?’: Spieth sees strategy in Mickelson’s play

June 19, 2018

Jordan Spieth arrived in Hartford Sunday night in preparation to defend his Travelers Championship title. On Tuesday, he took to the mic for the first time since missing the cut at Shinnecock Hills. After pushing a short par putt on the final hole to miss the cut, Spieth said he didn’t watch the action on Saturday, instead traveling into New York City for dinner in Central Park. But he did get a chance to see a replay of Phil Mickelson’s now-famous antics on the 13th green. His first reaction?

“I laughed, I thought it was really funny,” he said. In the aftermath of the incident, much was made about Mickelson’s intent, but count Spieth among those who believes Mickelson’s explanation that there was a strategic element to the decision. “Phil knows the rules,” he said. “There was a chance it was going to go back behind the bunker and he’s got to chip back, or he was going to play off the green anyways, so he was potentially saving himself a shot. So if that was the intent, then what’s the harm in that? He’s playing the best score he can.

“I don’t think people thought that was the intent, but I’ll take his word it was his intent. He knows the rules.”

Spieth, who was in Mickelson’s group the first two rounds, was especially frustrated about his own results after seeing the Saturday morning moves Daniel Berger and Tony Finau made from way down the leaderboard.

“When I saw the scores, I was even more frustrated at my finish, because going out early Saturday and you shoot something under par, say three-, four-under, and I would have been in the last couple groups and had a chance to win the U.S. Open,” he said. “That was a bummer for sure.” Now, in the midst of an uncharacteristically rocky year, he’s moving on to the Travelers. “I’m going to try and have fun and make progress,” he said. “That’s what I’m going to try to do this week.”