Jordan Spieth and caddie Michael Greller wait to tee off on the fourth hole during the second round of the 2019 PGA Championship at the Bethpage Black course on May 17, 2019 in Farmingdale, New York. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
By Sam Weinman
PEBBLE BEACH — Jordan Spieth made two full swings on Pebble Beach’s eighth hole, the first barreling over a cliff into a hazard, the second sailing over the green and into the rough. The fact that he escaped with a bogey 5 could be considered a small victory.
What Spieth couldn’t escape during Thursday’s first round, however, was criticism for how he reacted to the hole, with Fox cameras capturing the three-time major champion venting to caddie Michael Greller walking off the green.
“Two perfect shots, Michael,” Spieth said. “You got me in the water on one and over the green on the other.”
The Spieth-Greller tandem is known as one of the tightest on tour, so close that Spieth regularly uses the pronoun “we” when describing his performance. Here, though, the social-media backlash was pointed, criticising Spieth for singling out Greller alone for the mistake.
Asked about the exchange after the round, in which he recovered to shoot one-over 72, Spieth clarified player and caddie had agreed on club selection, and his remarks were made in exasperation.
“When you hit a couple of shots exactly where you want and one’s in the water and the next one’s dead over the green, I’m going to be frustrated that as a team we didn’t figure out how to make sure that didn’t happen,” Spieth said. “I may have looked like the bad guy, but my intentions were that we should be in play if the ball is hit solidly.”