Golf

Spieth pleases Byron Nelson fans despite disappointing finish

Jordan Spieth watches his tee shot on the first hole during the final round of the Byron Nelson golf tournament, Sunday, May 31, 2015, in Irving, Texas. He shot even-par 69 and finished 11 shots behind the winner, Steven Bowditch.
Jordan Spieth watches his tee shot on the first hole during the final round of the Byron Nelson golf tournament, Sunday, May 31, 2015, in Irving, Texas. He shot even-par 69 and finished 11 shots behind the winner, Steven Bowditch. AP

There was no nail-biting finish or couch-clinching TV moment Sunday for Jordan Spieth.

There was, however, much needed sunshine for a golf-starved AT&T Byron Nelson crowd, and there were plenty of Jordan’s Junkies on the prowl for the reigning Masters champ.

If he disappointed them with a tie for 30th, it didn’t show among the legions of fans that followed along.

Spieth took notice of it as well: Nelson patrons shouting his name from across fairways and fawning over his every move.

“It’s comfortable, it’s cool,” he said after a final-round, even-par 69. “It’s odd because a lot of the time I see my friends and family out here, I just want to go hang out with them, and obviously I need to stay focused.

“But it’s definitely a comfortable feeling seeing all these people out here supporting me. It’s really cool.”

Spieth’s finish, 11 strokes behind winner Steven Bowditch, isn’t close to his best effort at TPC Four Seasons Resort. He finished tied for 16th in 2010 as a 16-year-old high school junior from Dallas Jesuit.

Add on that Spieth had three runner-up finishes in Texas events this season — including last week at Colonial — and it’s easy to see how the gaggle of Junkies may start to approach Tiger-esque numbers or rival Arnie’s Army.

Jordan Spieth wrapped up two weeks at home with an even-par 69 and a tie for 30th in the AT&T Byron Nelson. He had plenty of hometown crowd out in the sunshine Sunday at the Four Seasons Resort and Club.

Tiger Woods has long set the bar for selling tickets to golf events, and Arnold Palmer built his well-wishers on the strength of dominant 1960s golf.

Is Spieth approaching that?

Going by Sunday’s attendance numbers, tournament director Jon Drago said the event had not parked this many cars since perhaps 2008, when Adam Scott came out on top.

Thousands lined the gallery ropes, some two- and three-deep throughout the golf course, and there was considerable haste by many to move on to the next hole for better vantage points.

What came to a finish, though, was Spieth’s appearances in Texas tournaments this season in front of a hometown fan base lusting for victory.

Needing to shoot a low number Sunday, Spieth got the crowd charged with birdies at Nos. 1 and 3, sandwiched around a bogey at No. 2.

But that’s about where the music died for golf’s new prince.

He made par on 11 of the next 12 holes and registered a bogey at No. 11, where his tee shot almost tattooed the AT&T platform sign that floats in the middle of the pond guarding the green.

Aside from that tee shot, Spieth said he has been happy with his driver over the past two weeks.

“I drove the ball very well,” he said. “My irons were subpar; wedges were pretty good. I didn’t make any putts, though, this week.”

Spieth will take his show to Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament next week in Dublin, Ohio, before taking a week off as the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay (Wash.) nears.

“My U.S. Open preparation started,” Spieth said. “These tournaments are U.S. Open preparations. I’d like to get into contention again next week and the more you can do that, be in the hunt and feel the heat, the better it is.

“I did that leading up to Augusta and learned from that. I’d like to do the same thing next week.”

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