By Jay Betsill
Jordan Spieth was three shots down with six holes to play at the Copperhead course at Innisbrook, but combined with some clutch putting and acrobatic scrambling around the greens, he caught leader Ryan Moore en route to a playoff victory at the Valspar Championship. Moore actually contributed to Spieth’s second career PGA Tour win as he faltered coming down the stretch to set up a three-man playoff between Spieth, Patrick Reed and Sean O’Hair.
O’Hair, who has not won since the 2011 Canadian Open, found himself behind the NBC tower on No. 18 and after being given relief, managed a par to tie Reed at 10-under. Reed himself had drained a 30-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole earlier to post a 66. Spieth had to get up-and-down from the thick rough on the left of the green, culminating with a 12 foot par putt.
On the third playoff hole, Spieth ended it with a 28-foot birdie putt and the celebration ensued.
“That was just luck,” Spieth said of his winning putt. “Guess it was my day.”
Henrik Stenson, playing in his first Valspar Championship, finished one shot out of the playoff at 9-under. Notables in the field included Danny Lee (T7, -5), Vijay Singh (T10, -4), Lee Westwood (T17, -3), Jason Dufner (T24, -2), Matt Kuchar (T33, -1), Jim Furyk (T40, E) and Brandt Snedeker (TT53, +3).
Next up on the PGA Tour is the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. Big names scheduled to play include Rory McIlroy, Keegan Bradley, Jason Day, Ernie Els, Rickie Fowler, Chesson Hadley, J.B Holmes, Billy Horschel, Zach Johnson, Graeme McDowell, Henrik Stenson, Webb Simpson, Bubba Watson and Adam Scott.
Tiger Woods made the announcement via his Twitter on Friday afternoon that he would be skipping Bay Hill, an event he has won eight times to continue working on his game. He also called Palmer personally to let him know that he would not be at his tournament.
— This past weekend at the Valspar Championship was the first missed but for Adam Scott since the 2012 Byron Nelson. Scott, who had gone 45 straight PGA Tour events — and 57 events worldwide — without missing a cut, saw his streak — the longest such on the PGA Tour — come to an end. Scott, the reigning Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial champion, tied for fourth last week in his season debut at Doral.
“It was pretty scrappy out there,” said Scott, whose wife recently gave birth to their first child. “Some loose shots, and some loose lag putts and some loose short putts. There’s not many courses we play you can get away with that. I’ve got to tighten it up a little bit. Overall, I feel pretty good.”
— Electronic Arts Inc. announced Monday that world No. 1 Rory McIlroy will be be replacing Tiger Woods as the new face of its golf series. Woods was on the cover from 1998 until 2013.
“Rory McIlroy PGA Tour” will be released in June for Xbox One and PlayStation 4.