Travelers notebook: Jordan Spieth plays by the numbers
CROMWELL, Conn. — Jordan Spieth is right where he expected to be if he could find a way to get to 12-under par after the third day at the Travelers Championship. He’s at the top of the leaderboard.
Although Spieth is making his first visit to TPC River Highlands, he predicted Wednesday that 16-under would be good enough to win the tournament. That being the number, he said his goal was to shoot 4-under each day.
Spieth’s 4-under third round yesterday gave him a 1-shot lead over Boo Weekley but to get it he had to birdie three of the final four holes after bogeying the par-5 13th and par-4 14th, an unusual misstep for golf’s newest wunderkind.
Only 23, Spieth is trying to win his 10th PGA event since turning pro four years ago and his second this season. To accomplish that he must hold off not only Weekley but seven other golfers within 5 shots or fewer of the lead.
“I thought that was the good goal trying to make two birdies a side with the last four nines with no bogeys,” Spieth said. “There are going to be mistakes within 36 holes, limiting them and trying to maybe grab an extra one or two is the goal. Tomorrow it doesn’t change. I think somewhere around 16 is a number that I was looking at after yesterday’s round, what we were looking at really at the beginning of the week.
“It’s going to be really good conditions tomorrow, so expect some guys to make some birdies and make a run. Boo and (Daniel) Berger (who is 9-under) are two guys who are not afraid to go low on Sundays. They both historically have done that. So we’ve got a tough gig ahead.”
Rory ditches putter
After Nike went out of the golf equipment business this year, Rory McIlroy signed a new deal with TaylorMade. But apparently their putters have not been tailor-made for him.
McIlroy changed putters a week ago going into the U.S. Open and yesterday he tried out five different flatsticks on the practice green before finally abandoning the Rory McIlroy TaylorMade Spider putter he’d used in the first two rounds.
“I made a decision this week I would give (that putter) one more week and see how it performed,” said McIlroy, who shot 70 to remain even-par for the tournament. “It’s nothing to do with the putter. It’s mostly what I’m doing with it. … Worked a little bit on Tuesday on my putting, and just tried to figure a few things out.”
If there is one man on tour who can relate to McIlroy’s doubts about his putter it’s Weekley. Asked if he ever changes putters, he said, “I change putters like I change underwear, man. If it don’t work, we’re putting another pair on. If these are a little too tight, you know, we’re changing something, buddy. Something’s going to get done. This year I’ve gone through probably close to about 20. Yeah, that’s a lot of washing.”
Boo to cheers
Weekley is a most unlikely contender at the Travelers.
The 43-year-old carded a 5-under round to put him 11-under and 1 stroke behind Spieth, a place he hasn’t been near putting himself this season.
Weekley missed the cut in 13 of the 21 events he’s entered this year, including four of the last six after opening the season missing 7-of-8. So how did he suddenly put himself in this position?
According to Weekley it was overcoming a “personal problem back home” that he brought up and then refused to explain except to say whatever was bothering him was, until this week, also bothering his game.
“It’s been a while,” Weekley said. “I mean, I’ve been having some personal struggles back home and then finally I’m starting to get that little bit taken care of. I don’t know. It’s just kind of surreal to be back up here in front of y’all and talking about it.
“As much work as I’ve put into golf and as much as I’d love to win again and be a part of it, don’t matter which tournament, I just want to win. That’s what everybody out here, that’s what we strive to do. To be sitting here feels like it’s an honor, at the same time as I’m playing well.”
Casey in range
Paul Casey is 4 shots behind Spieth. What will it take to win?
“Something more than I’ve done before,” he said. “We know it can yield some ridiculous numbers with Jim (Furyk’s) amazing 58 last year. It could get blown wide open if somebody goes bananas early. Hopefully, that’s me.” . . .
Taiwan’s C.T. Pan is a tour rookie who has already finished second this season and after a 6-under 64 yesterday is tied for fourth place. None of that might have happened though if his mother hadn’t had an unusual job.
“She was a caddie,” Pan said. “She’s still working at the golf club but not caddying. That’s how I know golf. It’s how I started. I got a free place to practice.”