For the first time all tournament, Jordan Spieth surrendered his lead at the Open Championship on Sunday.
Then, thanks to a series of marvelous shots and some wise words from his caddie, Spieth overcame a potential meltdown to claim the British Open and his third major.
After claiming victory to become the youngest American to with the Open Championship, Spieth thanked caddie Michael Greller in a rough way—the 23-year-old former world No. 1 surprised with with a ball tap.
And not the golfing kind; he slapped Greller in the nuts on live television.
“That was a pretty hard slap there!” 😂
— SB Nation (@SBNation) July 23, 2017
As it appeared Spieth’s championship was unraveling—conjuring flashbacks of his blowing a five-stroke lead on the back nine at the 2016 Masters—Greller’s encouragement appeared to make the difference.
“He said, ‘I’ve got something to say to you.’ He said, ‘You remember that group you were with?'” Spieth recalled Greller saying on the seventh tee. The caddie was referring to Michael Jordan and Michael Phelps, whom the golfer had met on vacation in Cabo San Lucas. “‘You’re that caliber of an athlete. But I need you to believe that right now because you’re in a great position in this tournament. This is a new tournament. We’re starting over here.'”
Through 13 holes, Spieth was plus-4 on the day. He was minus-5 on the final five holes for a minus-1 day, a minus-12 tournament, and a three-stroke victory over Matt Kuchar.
That rally included a near hole-in-one on 14 …
You cannot write this!
Almost an ace for Spieth… pic.twitter.com/prTnI8Hnnu
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) July 23, 2017
… and a gorgeous 50-foot eagle on 15 to reassume the lead.
— Mark Harris (@TweetsByHarris) July 23, 2017
“I was getting down on myself, as I think anyone would,” Spieth said, holding the Claret Jug. “This is as much mine as it is his. I’ll never forget how Michael told me that [about Jordan and Phelps], when he told me that and the significance that it had. All I needed was just a little bit of self-belief to be able to produce what I had there.’’