Spieth seethes at soft conditions

Writing from Town and Country, Missouri

Friday, April 10, 2018

Remember Jordan Spieth?

The guy who’s won the Masters, the U.S. Open and the British Open – or Open Championship, if you wear a monacle – and needs only the PGA Championship for a career grand slam?

Yep, that guy.

Where is he this week?

Seven strokes back of 36-hole leader Gary Woodland, that’s where.

On Friday, Spieth added a bogey-free 66 to Thursday’s 1-over 71 to stand at 3-under 137 before the thunderstorms doused Bellerive Country Club with more of what Spieth didn’t want to see in mid-afternoon.

Like most top players, he wants conditions harder, not easier. So far this week, Bellerive has gotten softer and softer. The summer-long heat wave – humid even by St. Louis standards – started it, putting the greens on the edge of dying. Downpours on Tuesday soaked the fairways and rough. Now came Friday’s monsoon, and while Bellerive isn’t ready to host a regatta, nor does it remind anyone of Carnoustie, where the British was played on baked-out fairways that resemble the tarmac at Lambert Field.

Any more rain, and the place will be so soft, Twinkies will be signing up as the PGA’s title sponsor.

This, Spieth didn’t want. His 66 was accomplished in the morning, when it went from warm to steamy, but hours before the rain came. No matter, as he was ornery about the entire situation, calling himself “a little frustrated at this place in general.

“It’s tough to come to a venue with bentgrass greens and this kind of weather,” Spieth said. “This course would be phenomenal, probably is, if it’s not playing so soft. And it’s not the rain that came on Tuesday. It was like that on Monday.”

Credit global warming for that. It changes the game plan because fairways where the ball would run through – the dogleg is alive and well here – now stop the ball that might otherwise scoot into the rough. More fairways hit equal more greens hit, which means both lower scores and more players in the chase.

Players not as good as Spieth.

“You can fire in and get away with more,” Spieth said. “You don’t have to be as precise. That’s frustrating in a major championship. That’s frustrating to be because I feel (precision is) an advantage I have. Personally I would prefer more difficult and firmer, faster conditions on the greens.

“I still really like the golf course. You just can’t possibly have firm, fast bentgrass greens in this climate.”

St. Louis is in that tweener zone between bentgrass and bermuda. There are more exotic options that have been created in recent years, but an elite club will tend to pick bentgrass even in extreme climates north of Florida. Augusta National Golf Club, for instance, though that famous course is closed from mid-May to early October. It’s too humid for bentgrass in Augusta then, too hot overall, and that’s when the home of the Masters remakes itself.

Bellerive doesn’t have that luxury. Maybe it should chase the next available PGA. It will be played in May.

Tim Cronin

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>
« Woodland carries PGA lead into third round | Main | Woodland leads rain-delayed PGA Championship »