CROMWELL, Conn. — Jordan Spieth knows how to play to a crowd at the Travelers Championship.
After losing the lead on the back nine and finishing 18 holes tied with Daniel Berger, Spieth found the perfect way to send home the massive gallery surrounding the 18th green — a birdie chip-in from the sand trap on the first playoff hole.
“It was cool, I mean the ground was shaking it was so loud, what an amphitheater” said Spieth, who tossed his wedge in celebration and then shared a running chest bump with caddie Michael Greller following the 61-foot chip. “Yesterday on 15 was pretty loud, but that one was pretty ridiculous. That’s the loudest I’ve ever been in, it’s up there.”
Spieth, 23, who led the TPC River Highlands tournament all week, joins elite company with Tiger Woods as the only golfer since 1983 to win 10 PGA Tour events before their 24th birthday. Woods won 15.
“I think it’s awesome,” said Spieth, who shot even-par 70 in the final round. “I’m hesitant and will speak out adamantly about not comparing myself to anybody else. I think that’s unfair. I don’t think anybody will do what Tiger did for the game, but it’s really cool to be out here at my age, to experience what we’re able to experience, play golf for a living.
“That’s a dream come true for me.”
It’s the second time Spieth has won after leading a PGA Tour event wire-to-wire. The first time was the 2015 Masters.
“I played the playoff hole great,” said Berger, who was 3-under for the day. “He hit an unbelievable bunker shot, and Jordan does Jordan things. So there’s not really much you can say. I’m obviously disappointed, but happy to be in the position I was in today.”
Berger and Spieth each finished regulation at 12-under, with the former sinking three birdies on the back nine. Spieth fell to 11-under with bogeys on the 12th and 14th, but earned one back with a 16-footer on the 15th.
Berger matched that putt with a 7-footer for birdie on the 17th.
Spieth had to chip out of the same trap the first time he played the 18th, but settled for par after leaving the sand shot about 3-feet short.
“I felt more comfortable in the bunker than I did from four feet,” Spieth said. “I was in there in regulation, knew it was the place to be. So my approach shot I thought that if it were not going to carry, that bunker’s not bad. If it happens to carry on to the green, great. From 225 into this hole I was happy with where it was. I was just trying to get it up there somewhere around the hole.
Coming into Sunday, Spieth only had five bogeys and one double bogey on his card, but struggled all afternoon, especially off the tee to shoot even par, with three birdies and three pars.
He started off with birdies on the first and second holes to move to 14-under, but gave one back with bogey on No. 4. Then trouble struck on the backside, with a bogey on the 12th.
Spieth followed it with a shaky tee shot on the par-5 13th, which was a hole he’s struggled on all week with a double bogey and bogey. However, he recovered from a driver that had left him hitting off a downward slope near a pond to make par.
Spieth was off the fairway on the 14th, but bogeyed the par-4 hole for the second straight day, which moved him into a tie with Berger at 11-under.
The other crowd favorite, Rory McIlroy was finished before the leaders even teed off. McIlroy, who used his third different putter of the week, shot a 6-under 64, his best score of the tournament.
A bogey on the final hole aside, the 28-year-old Irishman turned in a seven-birdie round in his final in the United States before flying home for three events, including next month’s British Open.
Charlie Hoffman posted his second straight top-10 finish at 10-under to tie for third with Danny Lee.
Other notables, Boo Weekley, Paul Casey and Patrick Reed each finished at 9-under, Keegan Bradley was 8-under, Brandt Snedeker was at 7-under and Jim Furyk at 5-under.