Jordan Spieth was inches away from falling off a cliff. Now, he’s just a shot off the lead.
Spieth fired a 9-under 63 Saturday at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am thanks to eight birdies and an eagle at the par-5 sixth hole, where Spieth stuck his second shot from 200 yards to 3 feet.
That wasn’t even the most memorable shot, though.
In hitting his tee shot on Pebble Beach’s par-4 eighth hole through the fairway, Spieth nearly sent his ball into Stillwater Cove. However, his ball ended up in the penalty area yet less than a foot from splashing down into the rocks and water below.
“Footing was solid,” Spieth said, “but I didn’t have much room past where my left foot was and the problem was it’s down-sloped. Like if it was flat, it’s no issue at all. It’s the down slope that worries you because you’re going to try and, you’re getting more forward to your left side on a down slope in order to get the strike, right? You want your weight with the slope. I didn’t want my weight with the slope that time. I was almost sitting there going, ‘Is it worth it?’ Because, yes, I can get a strike on it, but am I going to back up out of fear and just kind of thin this in the water, you know, like kind of top it.
“If I felt like I was in real true danger of losing my life I would have pulled the ball back and dropped it. It wasn’t quite that severe. But it was enough to where I certainly couldn’t put a normal swing or shot on it.”
From there, Spieth carefully hit his approach shot, a 7-iron from 155 yards, over the green before getting up and down to save par.
“Michael hated it,” Spieth said. “He tried to talk me out of it three times. I don’t blame him, looking back. I’m just glad I made the par to make it worth it, because I don’t think I would have made par with a drop, but if I made bogey it would have really not been worth it.”
Spieth later added: “If that were to happen again, [Michael] will walk up, grab my ball and throw it in the water, so that I can’t hit it.”
This time, though, Spieth avoided disaster – literally – in keeping a blemish-free front nine, where he shot 5-under 31. He added a 4-under 32 on the back, and at 14 under, he’s one stroke back of Beau Hossler, Andrew Putnam and Tom Hoge.
Spieth is playing the Pro-Am for the 10th time. In nine previous starts, Spieth owns a win (2017), four more top-10s and just one finish worse than T-22.
Despite his record on the Monterey Peninsula, Spieth entered the week not at 100% health. He was hospitalized with clostridioides difficile, a bacterial infection in the stomach, before missing the cut at last week’s Farmers Insurance Open. While on medication, Spieth hadn’t fully recovered before arriving at Pebble.
After hitting that shot Saturday on No. 8, it looks like his stomach is doing just fine.
Still, Spieth says, “I think I’ll hit less club tomorrow.”