Jordan Spieth

Why Jordan Spieth called out caddie during first round of 2019 U.S. Open

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Why Jordan Spieth called out caddie during first round of 2019 U.S. Open

PEBBLE BEACH, CA. -- Jordan Spieth got off to a solid start during Thursday's first round of the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, but it didn't last long. 

Sitting at even par through seven holes, Spieth's tee shot on the Par-4 eighth hole rolled through the fairway and off the seaside cliff, forcing him to head to the drop zone. His shot from there didn't fare much better, as he flew it over the green and into the thick rough. 

Boom mics caught Spieth calling out his caddie Michael Greller after the second wayward shot. 

“Two perfect shots, Michael,” Spieth said. “You got me in the water on one and over the green on the other.”

Spieth immediately began taking a beating for the on-air blame game, but the three-time major winner chalked it up to frustration. After he finished his first round at 1-over-par, seven shots back of leader Justin Rose, Spieth noted that he and Greller had agreed on the club and the exchange was made out of irritation with his results. 

“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.”

Spieth and Greller are very close and he often refers to them as "we," so this seems to be a case of a frustrated major champion letting his exasperation get the best of him. 

[RELATED: Tiger fights through up-and-down first round at Pebble Beach]

After missing out on a scoreable first round, Spieth will have to put up a low number Friday in order to get back into contention at the 119th U.S. Open. 

Jordan Spieth hoping for return of greatness during 2019 U.S. Open

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Jordan Spieth hoping for return of greatness during 2019 U.S. Open

MONTEREY, CA. -- It was not long ago that Jordan Spieth stood where Brooks Koepka now stands. 

After winning the 2015 Masters and U.S. Open in consecutive major starts, Spieth was the toast of the golf world. He owned the sport for two years, and many expected him to go on another major run after his victory at the 2017 British Open at Royal Birkdale. 

But, as often happens in golf, Spieth's game took a dip. First, his magical putting stroke, which had propelled him to those three major titles, left him. He started missing short putts, and eventually, his tee-to-green game started to suffer and his confidence appeared to waver. 

Koepka, meanwhile, has won four of the last eight majors he's played in and has become the hunted at major championships. 

As the 2019 U.S. Open is set to begin at Pebble Beach on Thursday, Spieth is looking to get regain his championship form and rejoin Koepka, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson atop the golf world. 

"So watching Brooks and Rory, these guys who have four major championships prior to being 30 years old and looking like they're just going to continue to do so, it's certainly a driving factor for me," Spieth told reporters Tuesday. "There's also a number of under-30 guys who are going to win a number of majors over the coming years, is certainly what it looks like.

"So there's plenty of inspiration to be the one that's trying to win these championships. And I have no trouble, personally, finding that inspiration, nor would I even if the 30-to-40-year-olds are winning. Like I just mentioned, this is our Super Bowl."

After posting a top 10 at the 2019 PGA Championship, Spieth carded an eighth-place finished at the Fort Worth Invitational and he tied for seventh at The Memorial. The 25-year-old feels his game is on the precipice of returning to major-winning form, but it's still not all the way back. 

"It's just been just constant progression, almost equal amounts week to week," Spieth said. "It's not like you just -- it's not like that (indicating) and all of a sudden you're -- it's not mental, in other words. You've got to work on the physical things and get a little more consistent with them and continue -- good news is over the course of the years I've been first in tee to green strokes gained. I've been first in putting strokes gained. I can look back on the swings, how I was consistently swinging the club at those different time frames, how my putting stroke was at that time, and I can start to match it back up. And that's what I've been working on trying to do.

"And the putting stroke has been really, really fluid and nice over the last, I don't know, six months or even more. And the swing has been starting to progress that way over the last month and a half or so. But there's one thing of knowing how to do it. There's another of practicing it and then trusting it on the golf course in tournament play. And those last four weeks were big for me to have -- be able to trust it in tournament play, have those reps under pressure, see where I'm actually at and see what I need to improve on."

Despite the struggles with his game, Spieth has been able to contend at majors with less than his best due to his innate talent and ability to simplify the game. 

The 25-year-old still is searching for consistency, but his near-misses at majors have given him the confidence that something great could be on the horizon. 

"Everybody gets off at some point in their career, and if I can make this kind of -- if this is the last year or so results-wise, off for me, then -- and I can use these kind of blueprints of how I've gotten back as kind of my set places to go to, then things should stay in place a lot easier and not get as far off," Spieth said.

"And that's all I'm looking to do. I mean, there's no -- I felt like I was able to put myself in chances to win tournaments without really having much. So when I get it back, it's just more consistent. I don't shoot 5- or 6-under and then 3-over and 3-over and then 5-under. I shoot 2-under on the bad days and 6-, 7-under on the good days. I'm just looking for more consistency, is really number one. That's the difference in winning and not."

[RELATED: Tiger ready to face familiar U.S. Open test at Pebble Beach]

While Koepka has ascended to the top of the golf world, Spieth has fought his game to try to return to those same lofty heights. 

With his game rounding into form and a great track record at Pebble Beach, the 119th U.S. Open just might serve as Spieth's coming-back party. 

U.S. Open 2019: Tiger Woods, seven others who can win at Pebble Beach

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U.S. Open 2019: Tiger Woods, seven others who can win at Pebble Beach

For the first time since 2010, the U.S. Open returns to iconic Pebble Beach during the 100th anniversary of the famed course.

The world's best will descend on Monterey this week in the third installment of what has been an exciting major season.

First, Tiger Woods roared at Augusta National, overcoming Francesco Molinari, Brooks Koepka and Xander Schauffele to win his 15th major championship and first since 2008. Then, Koepka continued his major championship run at Bethpage, holding off Dustin Johnson to claim his second straight PGA Championship and fourth major title in his last nine starts.

Now, the toughest challenge in golf returns to Pebble Beach in what is sure to be a grueling test of major championship mettle.

As Koepka noted prior to his win at Bethpage, you only have to beat a few people to win a major, so here are seven golfers with a serious chance to come out victorious at Pebble Beach. (Plus one honorable mention.)

Tiger Woods: After electrifying the golf world by winning his 15th major championship at The Masters, Woods took some time off to soak in his accomplishment. The result was poor play at the 2019 PGA Championship where he missed the cut by one stroke after firing a 5-over-par-145 over the first two days of the championship. Knowing he no longer can just show up and win major championships, Woods played the Memorial Tournament as a tune-up for his return to the site of his greatest major victory -- the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, where Woods ran away from the field, finishing the tournament at 12-under-par, a full 15 strokes ahead of Ernie Els and Miguel Angel-Jimenez.

Woods' play at the Memorial showed his game was in good form heading to Monterey Peninsula. Iron play has always been the strength of Woods' game, and he was dialed in at the Memorial where a Sunday 67 vaulted him into a tie for ninth. But it's Woods' driving of the ball in Dublin, Ohio, that should give people confidence for his performance at Pebble where the fairways will be narrow and the rough penal. Woods hit 42 of 56 fairways over four rounds at Muirfield Village while doing so with a variety of different shots, including his patented iron stinger. He looks ready.

Brooks Koepka: Koepka's career changed two years ago at Erin Hills when he won the 2017 U.S. Open by four shots over Brian Harman and Hideki Matsuyama. Since then, Koepka has put a stranglehold on the golf world, winning four of the last nine major championships dating back to Erin Hills, including the 2019 PGA Championship at Bethpage. Pebble doesn't set up quite as well for Kopeka's game as Erin Hills or Bethpage, but it would be foolish to think he can't win.

Jordan Spieth: After struggling with every facet of his game for over a year, the three-time major winner finished tied for third at Bethpage, and followed that up with top-10 finishes at Colonial and Muirfield Village. Spieth has started pouring in 25-footers -- a staple of his 2015 run -- and he's quickly gaining confidence off the tee. He won the AT&T at Pebble by four shots in 2017. While his approach play still is shaky, Spieth's game appears to be rounding into form and he's contended at majors with less than his best before.

Rory McIlroy: McIlroy was the hottest golfer on the planet prior to the Masters, finishing fourth, second and sixth before winning The Players. A slow start doomed him at Augusta National, but he came back with a top 10 finish at the PGA before winning the Canadian Open on Sunday. McIlroy is the best golfer on the planet when he brings his A-game. It's just a matter of if he brings it to Monterey Peninsula.

Dustin Johnson: The last time the U.S. Open was held at Pebble Beach, it looked like Johnson was primed to win his first major championship. Johnson led by three strokes heading into the final round, but he fired a final round 82 that would have set Twitter on fire had the social media app not been in its infancy. DJ finished in a tie for eighth and would have to wait another six years to claim his first major championship. Johnson has a great track record in California and has nine top-eight finishes in his career at Pebble. He's the world No. 1 for a reason, and it feels like major No. 2 could be on the horizon.

Tommy Fleetwood: He's been the model of consistency in recent major championships, making nine straight cuts. The Englishman put on an impressive display last year at Shinnecock Hills, firing a final-round 63 only to get to see Koepka nip him by one shot. He's been plagued by one bad round during majors, but Pebble should suit his game nicely. Expect him to be in the mix on the weekend.

Xander Schauffele: The 25-year-old has been brilliant in his young major championship career. In nine starts, he's made eight cuts, posted four top-six finishes and finished as the runner-up twice. He finished tied for fifth at Erin Hills in 2017 and tied for sixth at Shinnecock Hills last year. It feels like his first major championship win should be coming soon.

[RELATED: 2019 U.S. Open first-round tee times]

Jon Rahm: Rahm is a good player and has acquitted himself well in the state of California during his 10 career starts. He's played the AT&T twice, finishing fifth and 26th. The Spaniard has a tendency to let his emotions get the best of him, so the tough conditions could fluster him when the going gets tough, but he's certainly a name to watch.

Phil Mickelson (Honorable mention): Lefty's game hasn't been good over the past two months, but he won the AT&T at Pebble this year, and has finished third and 16th at the two US Open's he's played at Pebble. He might not have another shot at completing the career grand slam.