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