How Greller and Spieth turned dis­as­ter into glory from the dunes in the fi­nal round of last year’s Open at Birk­dale.

Golf World (UK) - - SPIETH & GRELLER -

Play­ing the par-4 13th, Spieth’s tee shot sailed nearly 100 yards right of the fair­way, set­tling in thick grass on a dune so steep he could barely stand up. Tak­ing a one-stroke penalty for an un­playable lie, Spieth had three op­tions. He could drop the ball within two clublengths, but that would have left him with an­other hor­ror lie and stance. He could re­played his tee shot, but would have meant a se­ri­ous loss of yardage. In­stead, in a mo­ment that be­lied his 24 years of age, Spieth asked if the driv­ing range 150 yards fur­ther back was out of bounds.

Think about this for a mo­ment: The Claret Jug is slip­ping through his fin­gers – just a lit­tle over a year af­ter he had blown a five-shot lead at Au­gusta – and here he was ask­ing if the range was in play. It was. The rules al­lowed Spieth to go back in a straight line from the flag un­til he was stand­ing in the prac­tice area among the man­u­fac­tur­ers’ trucks. Af­ter get­ting a free drop from those, he still had a blind shot over the dunes to a hole with pot bunkers every­where.

Spieth: “It was a lot of know­ing the rules and where to drop. But Mike helped me take my time when it came to ac­tu­ally hit­ting the shot.”

And that’s where an­other cad­die fib paid div­i­dends.

Greller: “While he was get­ting a rul­ing it gave me time to get an ac­cu­rate yardage and line. My big­gest role was try­ing to pro­tect against trou­ble, which was right and long. The whole time he had 3-wood and thought it was 275 yards to the front. I thought it was 240, so every time we in­ter­acted I was try­ing to plug the 3-iron. I ran up the hill and counted my paces. At 55 paces I knew he over­shot on the yardage, so I yelled back 240. I fudged the line a lit­tle to the left, too, be­cause there was more room. He caught that.” Spieth lis­tened, opt­ing for 3-iron in­stead of 3-wood and hit­ting just short of a bunker near the green be­fore pitch­ing to seven feet and es­cap­ing with bo­gey.

Greller: “Ev­ery­thing phys­i­cally took a long time but men­tally your mind is wired to panic. Be­cause we’ve had a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence in those sit­u­a­tions, I was men­tally able to slow down. There was al­ways a sense of calm in his voice. When I saw him drop the 3-wood I was thrilled.”

Spieth: “If it was two or three years ear­lier I might not have trusted him and I might have hit the 3-wood. That [bo­gey] was huge. It saved me at least a shot, and Michael was cer­tainly in­stru­men­tal in that win­ning tour­na­ment. Yeah, he was a bad ass.”

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