FORT WORTH, Texas — Jordan Spieth found the perfect cure for his Masters misery.
With an impressive back nine at Colonial, Spieth won at home in Texas for the first time on the PGA Tour. He had three consecutive birdies after making the turn, and three more in a row to finish his 5-under 65 on Sunday, including a chip-in birdie from behind the 17th green after a fortunate bounce off a marshal.
“In our third tournament back, to come back and close this one out the way we did is really, really special,” Spieth said. “This day is a moment that’ll go down, no matter what happens in the next 30 years of my career, this will be one of the most important days that I’ve ever had.”
The second-ranked Spieth punctuated his eighth career victory with a 34-foot birdie putt when he needed only a bogey to win the Dean & Deluca Invitational.
Last month at Augusta, Spieth blew a five-stroke lead on the back nine when he was trying to win the Masters for the second year in a row. He took an extended break before missing the cut at the Players Championship and then finished tied for 18th a week ago at the Byron Nelson, before finally winning in the Lone Star State after three runner-up finishes there, including at Colonial last year.
“The significance of it happening now … because I wasn’t sure how long it would take to get over the hurdle of having to come in to every single interview room, having to listen to crowds only talk about what happened a month ago,” he said. “And it’s very difficult, and I’m 22. It’s not like I hadn’t won, and we’ve won two majors.”
He is the reigning U.S. Open champion and will try to defend that title at Oakmont in three weeks.
Spieth started Sunday at Hogan’s Alley with nine consecutive pars, including a 32-footer at the par-3 eighth after hitting his first shot into heavy rough.
“The nerves hit me more than I think they should have or normally would just from the start of the round today, and that’s probably it,” he said, referring to the Masters.
There was also the guy in the gallery at No. 10 who yelled out, “Remember the Masters, Jordan” and other similar comments. While Spieth wasn’t sure if they were positive or negative reminders, they certainly provided some motivation.
Spieth made a curling 20-foot birdie at the 10th before a pair of short birdies, and then hit a wayward tee shot at the 192-yard 13th, almost immediately pointing his 7-iron to the left and shouting “Fore!” He yanked his ball out of the bunker over the green before a chip to inside 3 feet for a bogey.
Then at 14, after hitting his drive into a fairway bunker and shouting after his approach short of the green, he saved par with a 14-footer that rolled just to the right edge before falling into the cup.
After a 20-foot birdie at the par-3 16th, Spieth hit a wayward tee shot at the 17th. The ball ricocheted off the lower leg of a marshal and avoided going into much heavier rough. Spieth wrote “Thanks” on a golf glove and gave it to the marshal, but his approach from 173 yards sailed over the green and, to his relief, landed against a temporary grandstand before he chipped in.
“One of the luckiest holes I’ve ever had personally. I hit a guy on the side on the tee ball that goes into the first cut, and then I get that drop and then chip in,” he said. “If I’m anyone playing against me, I’d be pretty upset at that.”
Nearly two months before his 23rd birthday, Spieth broke a tie with Tiger Woods for wins at age 22 or younger. The only player with more at that age was Horton Smith, with 14 from 1928-30.
With the first-prize check of $1.2 million, and a plaid jacket to go with the green one from the Masters, Spieth has earned more than $24 million on the PGA Tour.
When the final group was introduced before teeing off at No. 1, in the shadow of the Wall of Champions, the applause and cheers for Palmer were as loud as those for Spieth.
Palmer opened with consecutive birdies to go a stroke ahead of Spieth for the lead. He got to 14-under after a 12-foot birdie at No. 7, which he celebrated by reaching back for a hand slap from caddie James Edmondson, the four-time Colonial club champion. That was Palmer’s last birdie until the 18th.
“The energy out there was spectacular,” said Palmer, who had his best finish in 13 starts at Colonial. “You couldn’t write a better script, for sure. … Watching what Jordan did, it shows you why he’s where he’s at.”