WASHINGTON: Shaking off a Masters meltdown as he prepares to defend his US Open crown, world No.2 Jordan Spieth birdied the last three holes on Sunday (Monday in Manila) to win the Dean and Deluca Invitational.
The 22-year-old Texan won his first home-state US PGA title in astonishing fashion, firing a five-under par 65 final round at Colonial to finish on 17-under 263 for a three-stroke victory.
Spieth led last month’s Masters with nine holes remaining and appeared set for a second consecutive wire-to-wire victory at Augusta National, only to collapse on the back nine and hand England’s Danny Willett the green jacket, literally doing so at the award ceremony with a grim facial expression.
“I knew it was going to be tough to put the Masters behind me,” Spieth said. “I don’t wish that on anybody. It’s no fun out there when you hear people yelling, ‘Remember the Masters.’
“To get over that hurdle in our third tournament back says a lot about our character out there.”
Since his major stumble, Spieth has battled back in May, missing the cut at the Players Championship and falling out of the hunt with a last-day fade at last week’s Byron Nelson Championship only to save his best for last at Fort Worth.
“As much as you play it off, that’s a tough hump to get over, after Augusta,” Spieth said.
Spieth, who defends his US Open title next month at Oakmont, curled in a 20-foot birdie putt at the par-3 16th Sunday to seize the lead for good, pumping his right fist with excitement.
At 17, Spieth found the rough on his first two shots but chipped his third into the cup, a stunning 42-foot pitch that brought a shocked smile to his face.
To complete his closing hat trick, Spieth dropped a 34-foot birdie putt at 18 and raised in arms in celebration.
“It was difficult to stay patient but that’s the thing we told ourselves to do,” Spieth said.
Harris English fired a 66 to finish second on 266 with Ryan Palmer and Webb Simpson on 267 and Kyle Reifers fifth on 268.
The only non-US player in the top 10 was India’s Anirban Lahiri, who shared sixth on 271 after a 68.
Next week will see Spieth face top-ranked Jason Day of Australia and third-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland at the Jack Nicklaus-hosted Memorial tournament. All three have built confidence with recent wins.
“This is a big step for me to make a move on Jason’s number one reign,” Spieth said. “He has still got some space there but we’re going to try to get closer.”
Spieth opened with nine pars, making a 32-foot par putt at the par-3 eighth for his most amazing rescue, then began the back nine with three birdies in a row to seize the lead.
“I didn’t deserve par on eight by any means,” Spieth said. “Poor first shot. I made a great putt there.”
Spieth sank a 20-foot putt at 10 and short ones on the next two holes, but a bogey at the par-3 13th after finding a greenside bunker dropped him into a share of the lead with English.
At 14, Spieth found a fairway bunker and had to make a testy 13-foot putt to save par, setting the stage for his sizzling finish.
Spieth had not broken 70 in the last round since February and had been under par only once in the last round in his past five tries.