I wrote about the zaniness at 13 Sunday at Birkdale for Golfweek, and while most are pretty satisfied with the conclusion, many have written in response to the piece still unsatisfied with how things played out.
Namely, many are upset at the time Jordan Spieth's drop took and the impact on Matt Kuchar. Some are still upset that the driving range was not marked as out-of-bounds. And some are unhappy that Spieth could hit such a poor drive and use the rules to his advantage.
A few random rebuttals and reads that hopefully help shed a different light beyond what I wrote above:
- Spieth's tee shot ended up on the side of a huge dune almost 100 yards from the fairway. The ball hit a spectator. The combination of visibility issues and simply maneuvering on a steep, wet hill made it hard for anyone to move quickly or figure out options.
- The range was too far out of play to be seen as a necessary boundary. Sure, the 10th fairway was declared out of bounds on Tuesday of tournament week to prevent 350 yard short cuts, so it certainly could have been declared OB in the same way. But I just don't think anyone could fathom the range being in play.
- As soon as Spieth saw how bad the lie was, he had the clarity to start looking at unplayable lie options, briefly at the base of the dune and then going as far back as he wanted, keeping the ball in line with the hole. He had to move back up the dune to sort out the line with the walking referee. That took a while.
- Spieth should not be blamed for the tour trucks having not left town. Nor is it his fault that the range was left unmarked as a boundary.
- Apparently not seen on the American broadcast was Spieth's drop between the tour trucks, which took a few minutes to sort out and was ultimately resolved by John Paramor, roving official and European Tour rules man. Once he was on the scene things moved along.
- In watching Spieth and Greller work, I actually sensed Jordan might have rushed the shot once he got his line of play and the crowd somewhat settled down. He did not strike it perfectly and from his vantage point, the shot seemed way right. But as Bones noted today on Morning Drive, Greller's yardage call was a great guess. Oh, and rangefinder advocates, a distance measuring device would not have sped things up much or looked very good.
- Jack Nicklaus was impressed with how Spieth used the rules to his advantage.
And while it did take him a long time between the tee shot and the next shot, Jordan figured out what to do. I don’t know if I would have figured out to go over to the driving range for that shot. That was an unbelievable decision and unbelievable 5. That putt was so huge.
- Spieth joked afterwards about having experience with unplayable lie drops and temporary movable obstructions. That may be the case, but as Karen Crouse notes in this comparison between Spieth and McIlroy, he's also just the more analytical player. His nearly-manic energy at times came in handy.
- The entire scene was terribly unfair to Kuchar but not avoidable.
- The distraction of dealing with the situation might have weighed on someone who was already pondering a major meltdown (Coffin/GolfChannel.com). Spieth turned chaos into a positive. Again, lousy for Kuchar but it could have all easily gone another way. Spieth is just a different character. At least he apologized for taking so long.
A YouTube posting of the entire sequence is here.