Spieth says wrist is feeling good enough to play ‘nasty’ Oak Hill
PITTSFORD, N.Y. (AP) — Jordan Spieth finished nine holes of practice at Oak Hill on Wednesday and said his left wrist felt good enough to play in the PGA Championship, and good enough that he’s won’t rule out his chances of a career Grand Slam.
That’s a big leap from a week ago, when he wasn’t sure he could make it to New York.
“I wouldn’t play if I didn’t think I was in good enough shape to play,” he said after playing the front nine with Justin Thomas and Tom Kim. “I just don’t have the reps I’d like to have going into a major. But I’m happy I’m able to play because I surely didn’t think that a week ago.”
Spieth missed the cut at the Wells Fargo Championship and then withdrew from his hometown AT&T Byron Nelson in the Dallas area because of a wrist injury that required rest.
He did not say how he injured his wrist, calling it random, but that it was on the ulnar side. His left wrist is taped, with kinesiology tape running from the wrist to the elbow.
The timing is not good for the 29-year-old Spieth, and not just because it’s a major. The PGA Championship is the only major keeping him from becoming the sixth player to complete the career Grand Slam.
Tiger Woods was the last player with the career slam in 2000.
Spieth said in a text message on Sunday that he was still 50-50 about playing, but that he would fly up to the Rochester area to at least see how it handled the thick rough framing the fairways at Oak Hill.
That didn’t seem to be an issue when he played the back nine on Tuesday, and then had an afternoon start to see the front nine on the eve of the PGA Championship.
He hit a variety of bunker shots, difficult because of the steep lips. Flop shots were minimal. On his final hole, Spieth drove into the left rough and took a hard slash to advance it up the hill, short of the green but without flinching.
He said the shots that can be uncomfortable are “anything I have to flick over, like a high bunker shot or a high flop shot.”
“You wouldn’t have those as much as any other shot,” he said.
The bigger concern might be Oak Hill, which is hosting its seventh major and has long had a reputation for being one of the strongest tests. The rough is thick and makes it difficult to advance shots to the green. The bunkers have been restored to make lips supremely steep.
“There’s nothing that separates this from a U.S. Open,” Spieth said. “This is a U.S. Open. The fairways are firm, narrow, and the rough is thick. As far as difficulty, it feels like a U.S. Open course. Par is a nice score.”
Spieth said he turned the corner on Saturday, when he had his first full range session and was able to hit the ball at full speed.
“On Sunday morning when I woke up, it didn’t take a step back,” he said. “So I thought, ‘I’ve got a good shot at it.’”
As for treatment, he said he did just about everything from laser to stem cell to ice therapy. “And it’s healed up,” he said.
He starts Thursday on the 10th hole with former British Open champion Shane Lowry and Viktor Hovland. Spieth said he wouldn’t be playing if he didn’t think he could win.
“It’s not fun if you don’t think you have a chance to win,” he said. “If I felt like I was limited in a way that would affect my chances, then there would be no reason for me to feel like playing. Because then I would do further damage and it wouldn’t be worth it.
“I feel like I can get into every position with the speed that I want to produce the scores I want,” he said, pausing to smile before adding, “I’m just a little rusty on the reps.”
And with that, he headed to the range for one last session.
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