Sport Golf

Friday 23 February 2018

Spieth fury as heckler disrupts crucial putt

Shane Lowry hits a shot to the third hole during the second round of the Phoenix Open. Photo: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images
Shane Lowry hits a shot to the third hole during the second round of the Phoenix Open. Photo: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

Brian Keogh

An angry Jordan Spieth looked set to miss his first cut for eight months after a heckler put him off on his final hole in the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

As Shane Lowry started well but then fizzled out to post a one-under 71 that left him teetering on the projected one-under-par cut-line, Open champion Spieth was a shot further back and heading for home after a second successive bad day on the greens.

The world No 3 three-putted three times over the two days and his mood wasn't helped by a heckler on his final hole of the day - the ninth - who screamed: "Jordan, I've got two beers on this!" as he faced a make-or-break 30-footer for birdie.

Predictably, Spieth left his putt short and glared back at the fan, who was later ejected by security, before making a tight-lipped exit from TPC Scottsdale.

The Texan (24) was understandably upset with himself as he took 32 putts in a 70 to sit outside the cut mark on level-par as pal Daniel Berger blasted a bogey-free 65 to lead by a stroke on nine-under-par in the clubhouse from Chesson Hadley, Scott Stallings and Chris Kirk. "I think my speed control has just been so good this week," Berger said. "If I'm missing putts, I'm just tapping them in, and it's been a lot less stressful than weeks past."

Lowry had 31 putts in his 71 and left him praying that the cut line did not move to two-under after some back-nine driving errors left him eight shots off the early pace. The world No 67 struggled to get any momentum going en route to one-under 70 on day one.

And it was a similar story in the second round as he got to two-under after 12 but signed for a level-par 71 that left him sitting precariously on the cut line. The Offaly man (30) made an eight-footer for par after going from a fairway bunker to a greenside bunker at the second but made a superb birdie at the sixth, firing a 143-yard approach from a fairway bunker to 11 feet. He then made a seven-footer for par at the 193-yard par-three seventh before rattling home a 25-footer for a two at the 164-yard 12th to move into the top 25 on three-under par.

But just when he looked to have some momentum, he drove into a hazard and bogeyed the par-five 13th, then dropped another shot at the tough, 488-yard 14th following another miss to the right with the driver.

Another missed fairway at the par-five 15th forced him to lay up and settle for a two-putt par and while he hit a good shot to 12 feet at the raucous 16th and had a 13-footer at the driveable 17th, he missed both birdie putts.

Elsewhere, Darren Clarke birdied the 18th to make his first European Tour cut for 18 months in the Maybank Championship in Kuala Lumpur.

Frying

But it could still be a case of out of the frying pan into the fire as there will be a secondary cut to just the top 72 and ties today after 81 players finished on four-under.

But Clarke was understandably pleased to add a bogey-free 68 to his opening 72 and be employed for the weekend in a European Tour event for the first time since he finished tied 30th in The Open at Royal Troon 565 days ago.

"Happy with that! Looking forward to the weekend," tweeted world number 1,410 Clarke, whose only successes recently came with three top-30 finishes on the third tier Mena Tour at the end of last year.

Thai teenager Phachara Khongwatmai (18) and Italy's Nino Bertasio shot 65s to lead by a stroke on 11-under-par from Chris Paisley, Marc Warren, Yuka Ikeda and Lee Westwood, who posted a stunning 10-under 62 at the Saujana Golf and Country Club.

  • Maybank Championship:  Live, Sky Sports Golf, 2.30am
  • Phoenix : Live, Sky Sports Golf, 7.0pm

Irish Independent

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