Golf - Spieth holds head high after playoff loss to Johnson
REUTERS - Jordan Spieth did not feel like he lost the Northern Trust in Old Westbury, New York on Sunday, but instead that Dustin Johnson won it.
Spieth seemed poised to join Justin Thomas as a four-time winner on the PGA Tour this season when he opened a five-shot lead during the final round at the Glen Oaks Club.
A noted front-runner, having converted nine of his previous 10 54-hole leads into victories on the PGA Tour -- the 2016 Masters the only exception -- Spieth did not do a lot wrong, apart from a double-bogey at the par-three sixth.
The Texan failed to clear the water hazard guarding the green with an eight-iron, and that one mistake with club selection led to a double-bogey and gave Johnson hope.
Four holes later they were tied and the back nine turned into an exciting head-to-head battle that Johnson ultimately won at the first extra hole, after they had finished regulation locked at 13-under-par 267. Spieth shot a closing 69 to Johnson's 66.
"Mistake on six kind of flustered me for a couple holes. Fought back nicely on the back nine," Spieth told reporters.
He sank an 18-foot putt to save par on the penultimate hole of regulation and made a fine two-putt par from 75 feet from the fringe at the 72nd, but could not answer Johnson's birdie in the playoff.
The Texan was not going to let the defeat sour his mood after a stellar season in which he has won three times, including the British Open. He needs only to win the PGA Championship to complete the career grand slam.
"I didn't lose this tournament," Spieth said. "He (Johnson) won it, you know.
"I feel great about my game. It's very difficult holding a lead on a difficult golf course when the guy you're playing with goes bogey-free and doesn't even really sniff a bogey and shoots four-under.
"My hat's off to D.J. but no surprise, either."
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Peter Rutherford)