Spi­eth misses Bar­clays cut to lose No. 1 rank­ing

The China Post - - SPORTS -

Jor­dan Spi­eth’s reign as world No. 1 came to an abrupt end on Fri­day af­ter a missed cut at the Bar­clays en­sured Rory McIl­roy would re­turn to top spot.

The Mas­ters and U. S. Open cham­pion had top­pled McIl­roy from the No. 1 rank­ing two weeks ago with a run­ner-up fin­ish to Jason Day at the PGA Cham­pi­onship.

But in his first tour­na­ment since then, he en­dured two dif­fi­cult days at Plain­field Coun­try Club, where he fol­lowed up a first-round 74 with a 73 on Fri­day to miss the cut by five strokes with a seven-over to­tal of 147.

Two- time Mas­ters cham­pion Bubba Wat­son was the half­way leader of the US$ 8.25 mil­lion tour­na­ment, the first leg of the U.S. PGA Tour play­offs.

Wat­son rolled in a 12-foot birdie putt at the 18th to cap a twounder 68 for a seven-un­der to­tal of 133.

He sep­a­rated him­self from a quar­tet of play­ers on 134 that in­cluded Bri­tish Open cham­pion Zach John­son, who had five bird- ies with­out a bo­gey in a 65.

John­son was joined at six-un­der by Swe­den’s Hen­rik Sten­son (66) and Amer­i­cans Tony Finau (69) and Jason Dufner (68).

But it was Spi­eth in the spotlight as the 22-year-old Texan tried to re­bound from a first round that marked his worst score in re­la­tion to par all sea­son.

He had con­fi­dently vowed to bounce back, but couldn’t gain any trac­tion as he fol­lowed a first-hole birdie with back-to-back bo­geys at the fourth and fifth. Another birdie at the sixth was promptly fol­lowed by two more bo­geys at the sev­enth and eighth.

Spi­eth ral­lied briefly with birdies at 10 and 11, but ended up with a dou­ble-bo­gey seven at the par-five 12th where he in­curred a penalty for step­ping on his ball while he was look­ing for it in a grassy haz­ard.

‘Tough week’

“Tough week,” said Spi­eth, who was al­ready cer­tain to miss the cut when he capped his round with a bo­gey at 18.

As a re­sult, McIl­roy — who skipped this week’s tour­na­ment — will re­turn to num­ber one in the world when the rank­ings are up­dated on Mon­day.

Spi­eth and McIl­roy are both sched­uled to tee it up next week at the Deutsche Bank Cham­pi­onship in Bos­ton as the play­offs progress to­ward the sea­son-end­ing Tour Cham­pi­onship in At­lanta, where a US$10 mil­lion play­off bonus will be up for grabs.

“I don’t know ex­actly what I’m go­ing to do from here as far as how I get pre­pared for next week,” Spi­eth said, wel­com­ing the Fri­day start to next week’s event. “I have some time to fig­ure it out.”

Spi­eth has fash­ioned one of the great sea­sons in golf with his first two ma­jor vic­to­ries. He missed a play­off at the Bri­tish Open by one stroke to fin­ish with a share of fourth be­fore his run­ner-up fin­ish to Day in the fi­nal ma­jor of the year.

He has also won two other U.S. PGA Tour ti­tles, and hadn’t missed a cut since the Play­ers Cham­pi­onship in May — one of just two prior missed cuts in 2015.

When he tees it up next week, Spi­eth said, he’ll be think­ing about win­ning the play­offs — and let­ting the num­ber one rank­ing take care of it­self.

“That rank­ing, it’s great once you reach it but it’s not some­thing that I’m go­ing to live and die on each week,” he said. “In my mind, it’s just about try­ing to win the FedEx Cup at this point.”

Spi­eth went into the Bar­clays atop the FedEx Cup stand­ings, although Wat­son could over­take him with a win. With the Tour Cham­pi­onship count­ing the most to­ward grab­bing the bonus, Spi­eth said he was far from out of it.

“Billy Horschel won the FedEx Cup af­ter miss­ing the cut in the first event last year and I’m in a bet­ter po­si­tion to win the FedExCup than he was at the time,” Spi­eth said. “So why can’t I do it, you know?”


Tony Finau tees off on the 15th hole dur­ing the sec­ond round of play at The Bar­clays golf tour­na­ment in Edi­son, New Jersey, Fri­day, Aug. 28.

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