By Jay Betsill
Jordan Spieth caught fire on the back nine at the famed Colonial Country Club to capture the Dean and DeLuca Invitational for his first victory in Texas. It was just his third event after the disastrous stretch on Sunday at Augusta National which cost him his second consecutive green jacket.
“In our third tournament back, to come back and close this one out the way we did is really, really special,” Spieth said. “This day is a moment that’ll go down, no matter what happens in the next 30 years of my career, this will be one of the most important days that I’ve ever had.”
Spieth was in contention last week at the AT&T Byron Nelson before a closing 74 dropped him back in the pack in front of his hometown fans, but bounced back to win what is essentially a home game in a tournament that has special meaning to the Dallas native as well. In 2013, when Spieth had no status on the PGA Tour, Colonial Country Club gave him a Champions Choice exemption into the field.
“Like I told you guys last Sunday, things are close and now we’re going to a course where I’ve had success in the past and that does a lot for us,” Speith said. “Sure enough, it did.”
As big of a boost as Spieth gets from winning the prestigious PGA Tour event, the tournament itself, which was in its first year with its new title sponsor, could not have written a better script as to have one of the biggest stars in all of sports and the face of golf capture the Leonard Trophy in front of huge galleries and Kuhn Ying, the CEO of Dean and DeLuca, who saw first hand what he was investing in and putting his company’s name on.
The other big story line of Sunday’s dramatic finish revolved around Colonial member Ryan Palmer, who held the lead for part of Sunday. Palmer’s caddie is four-time Colonial club champion James Edmondson, so the two of them certainly had their share of fans with the huge gallery that followed the final threesome of Spieth, Palmer and 2012 U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson around the course.
In addition to the Dallas vs. Fort Worth angle (although technically Palmer lives in nearby Colleyville), fans also partook in the Austin vs College Station angle with Spieth attending UT and Palmer going to Texas A&M.
“The energy out there was spectacular,” said Palmer, who had his best finish in 13 starts at Colonial. “It was fun to be in that atmosphere, that arena. … Watching what Jordan did, it shows you why he’s where he’s at and what he’s done.”
As the tournament wound down, it was evident it was going to be Spieth’s day as he drained a 20-foot birdie at the par-3 16th and made an improbable chip in on No. 17 from 43 feet. The icing on the cake came on No. 18 when for good measure, he made a 34-foot birdie putt to reach 17-under and get three clear of the field as thousands of fans surrounding the 18th green cheered on.
“The significance of it happening now … because I wasn’t sure how long it would take to get over the hurdle of having to come in to every single interview room, having to listen to crowds only talk about what happened a month ago,” Spieth said. “It’s very difficult, and I’m 22. It’s not like I hadn’t won, and we’ve won two majors.”
With the victory, his ninth on the PGA Tour, Spieth passed Tiger Woods for the most wins at age 22 or younger.
Next up for Spieth is a trip to Muirfield Village for The Memorial Tournament next week followed by his defense of the U.S. Open at Oakmont in three weeks.
Notables in the Colonial field included Matt Kuchar (T6, -9), Patrick Reed (T15, -6), two-time Colonial champion Zach Johnson (T17, -5), defending champion Chris Kirk (T17, -5), Brandt Snedeker (T17, -5), Vijay Singh (T34, -1) and Adam Scott (T55, +2).
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