Teenager Spieth claims first PGA title after play-off
19-year-old wins on fifth extra holes to earn British Open slot
Jordan Spieth holds the trophy after winning a three-way five hole sudden death play-off after the final round of the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Illinois. Photograph: Michael Cohen/Getty Images
Teenager Jordan Spieth earned a place in this week’s British Open after winning the John Deere Classic in a five-hole play-off.
The 19-year-old only reached the play-off after holing from a bunker at the 72nd hole but held his nerve to beat former Masters champion Zach Johnson and David Hearn, the Canadian 15 years Spieth’s senior.
It earned him €636,500, 500 FedEx Cup points and a ticket to Muirfield, but he said: “Right now I’m just happy I won the John Deere.”
Spieth birdied five of the last six holes, rounded off by that memorable pitch in from sand at the last, to set the clubhouse target at 19 under par.
He returned to the practice ground and waited to see if Johnson, one ahead, would slip up – which he did, sending his chip at the 18th through the green and to the edge of the water.
He got up and down for bogey to finish 19 under and the pair were joined by Hearn, who took a zig-zagging route through the rough before coolly holing out for par.
All three parred the 18th twice as the play-off began, Johnson’s chip lipping out the first time before he missed from 12 feet the second time.
More pars followed with two-putts on the par-three 16th, Spieth after only finding the front fringe, and the trio made contrasting pars at the par-five 17th.
Spieth’s tee-shot found the left rough and Johnson put his approach in a bunker in front of the green but a stunned Hearn saw a five-foot putt lip out, sparking a stampede back to the 18th even as Johnson holed out to stay in the game.
All three found the right rough and Johnson’s escape rebounded off a tree into the water, Spieth taking the initiative with a good punch just through the green.
Hearn could not make his par putt and Spieth, after calming the crowd, rolled in a short putt to win.
Reflecting on the final hole of the play-off, Spieth said: “Honestly, I got a good break (in the trees) and Zach got a bad break.
“Once those guys were back there in two, I just knew I needed to get it up near the green.
“I’ve bailed out in play-offs a couple of times and I just needed to go for broke.”
Spieth had shot a six-under-par 65, for the third round in succession, to reach the play-off that yielded his first ever win on the PGA Tour.
He bogeyed the first hole but had two birdies on the front nine and another at the 10th before his blistering finish, broken up only by a bogey at the 15th.
Hearn shot 69 with three birdies and one bogey while Johnson started strongly and moved ahead with a birdie at the 17th, but gave it away at the last.
Overnight leader Daniel Summerhays had four successive bogeys on the front nine but recovered to share the lead until he found a horrible lie in sand at the last, took two shots to get out and finished with the only over-par round among the leading group.
He finished one shot off the leaders at 18 under, alongside Jerry Kelly and Martin Flores. The latter put himself in contention with a brilliant blemish-free 63 as he eagled the second then picked up six birdies – including four in the final six holes.
Patrick Reed, Matt Jones and JJ Henry were 17 under with three-time champion Steve Stricker at 16 under along with fellow American Jim Herman.