There have been no shortage of touching tributes in the wake of Arnold Palmer’s passing in September. But this from Jordan Spieth during the third round of the Masters may have been one of the most fitting.
Riffing on MasterCard’s #ArnieWould campaign, Jordan Spieth rebuffed the apparent suggestion from caddie Michael Greller that a layup was in order. Facing a 200-plus yard carry with his second shot over Rae’s Creek to find the 13th green, Spieth begged this question of his looper.
“What would Arnie do, Mike?”
And Greller, for his part, didn’t try to compel his man to take the conservative route: “Hit it right below it [the hole], 20 feet.”
“Alright, I’ll do that,” Spieth responded (like a boss).
Check out the clip below. Needless to say, Spieth executed the hero shot to give himself a look at eagle. While he wasn’t able to convert, the 2015 Masters champion did make birdie, en route to a third-round 68 that reinserted him into the conversation.
— Masters Tournament (@TheMasters) April 9, 2017
And to make the whole situation even better, Spieth was asked a question about the exchange in his post-round press conference. His reply is fantastic and worth quoting at length:
“Q. That’s something you guys have been saying throughout the week. Is that the first time that’s come up?
JORDAN SPIETH: No, I think Mike was taken back. He was very much pressing for a lay‑up there, and laying up was the smart shot. I had 228 to the hole. I couldn’t see the green, given where the tree was located. I’m right‑handed. I could see the right edge on the tower, but my ball‑‑ the actual shot wasn’t blocked. It was just about committing to what you can see and what you actually know is there.
And so he liked the lay‑up. I’ve made birdie at that pin, I think, the last two years by laying up down the left side and hitting a wedge in there, and I feel like I’ve done a lot of course knowledge to know where to lay up and how to hit that pitch in there. So it actually, even though it’s a hard shot to that pin, it’s the most difficult pin on the hole.
I had confidence in the lay‑up situation, but I had a great number. I had a 4‑iron number. It was going to cover if I struck it solid, and I just had to turn it off the tower. And if I overturned it, it would just be in that swale and I figured I would get it out of the swale to the same proximity that I would hit the wedge shot.
So all that went through my head. And I thought, in order to win this golf tournament‑‑ I hit my favorite shot I’ve ever hit in competition in my life on that hole going for it when we had that decision in 2015. And so there’s good vibes. I just, you know, “What would Arnie do” was my way of expressing it to Michael, which we all know exactly what he would have done. And I’m proud that I pulled that shot off and it led to a 4, 3 and a half, almost a 3.”
An awesome exchange. And Spieth is right, to win at Augusta National, you have to play smart, sure, but you also need to take calculated risks to get the job done. In other words, playing the course the way Arnold Palmer did.