PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Jordan Spieth likes to share the credit — and the blame, too — with his caddie.
Halfway through the U.S. Open, there's been plenty of both to go around.
On Friday, Spieth and caddie Michael Greller endured another little mishap, which, once again, was captured loud and clear by the nearby TV microphones.
The three-time major champion was dumbfounded when he hit a ball out of a fairway bunker on the second hole that careened into a rake buried in the tall grass above the bunker, causing the ball to plummet after advancing only 15 yards. He saved bogey there and shot 3-under 69 to get to 2 under for the tournament.
"If I didn't hit the rake, I don't know if it had enough to get anywhere near the green, or if it would have been way short or what, but certainly it would have been in a better position than it went to," Spieth said.
Normally, it's a caddie's job to make sure his player has a clear path out of a bunker — free of rakes, clubs or any other thing that can be legally moved out of the way.
In this case, Spieth took the blame,
"That's on me," he said. "I've just got to look at all options ahead of me. And if there are rakes in front of the bunker, typically we pull them out. But when I was in it, I couldn't see it. So it was kind of a weird set of events."
Probably good for Spieth to take responsibility, considering his exchange with Greller the day before.
After his tee shot on No. 8 went long and rolled off a cliff, TV microphones caught Spieth grilling the caddie about club selection: "Two perfect shots, Michael. You got me in the water on one and over the green on the other."
Fox, apparently picking up on the tension, added "Caddie: Michael Greller" to the graphic showing Spieth's score several times when he played a shot in Friday's round.
The mics were close when Spieth hit the rake.
"Oh, it hit the rake. Oh, there's a rake there," Spieth said. "Got over the lip and hit the rake."
Greller responded: "There is a rake there."
The sometime-animated back-and-forths between player and caddie are nothing new. TV mics over the years have caught their detailed conversations, and Spieth is among the players who likes to say "We" when describing things he did on the golf course.
That might explain Spieth's lack of filter in conversations with Greller.
"I think our communication has been very successful over the last six, seven years," he said. "It's kind of all the stuff I used to hold in my head before I'm able to kind of just fall out now. And it's very important, especially when you're trying to hit small greens ... here at Pebble Beach, it's nice to have somebody looking out for you."
Rough finish pushes Molinari back down the pack: Climbing down a cliff and riding in a golf cart are among the things players mostly need to avoid when trying to contend for a U.S. Open.
Francesco Molinari did both in the span of about five minutes Friday, and a promising ride up the leaderboard turned into something much different.
Molinari played his last two holes in 3-over par to drop from second place to completely off the leaderboard, shooting 1-over 72 and finishing at 2-under 140 heading into the weekend at Pebble Beach.
"I liked it more before the last two holes," Molinari said, when asked about his position. "But, yeah, it's fine. I did what I could. Could have easily been a few over par, and I just fought with what I had."
Indeed, it was a struggle at the beginning for the Italian, who burst onto the scene with his British Open win last year and has been contending at the majors ever since.
Starting on No. 10, Molinari found only one fairway over the first eight holes, then nearly gave back his first birdie of the day, on 18, when he hit an iron off the tee and into the rough on No. 1.
But he saved par there, then made birdies on Nos. 4 and 7, and briefly stood at 5 under, in a tie for second and looking at a late tee time for Saturday.