NORTON – Thunder stampeded across the steel-colored sky, giving players beneath another stern heads up.
After a weather delay, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, and Harris English were among the first to tee off Monday, but their final round wasn’t yet completed when the skies again turned sinister.
Now, they knew they had to hurry.
So, they raced through the final holes, finishing about 15 minutes before officials suspended play at TPC Boston for the second time because of inclement weather at the Deutsche Bank Championship.
But on those final holes, Spieth was brilliant, posting consecutive birdies on Nos. 15, 16, and 17, then sinking a 23-foot eagle on No. 18, which resulted in a roaring ovation from the gallery.
His 9-under-par-62 final round was one shot off the course record.
“Honestly, playing a quicker pace plays into my favor,” Spieth said after finishing the tournament 17-under-par-267, which placed him tied for fourth place. Henrik Stenson won with a 22-under 262.
“I enjoy playing fast and being the first off was the best scenario that we could possibly have had,” Spieth said. “The thunder didn’t really affect what we were doing.”
With his strong round, the American phenom who turned 20 in July made a strong case to become a possible captain’s pick for the Presidents Cup.
Fred Couples, the US captain, will make the call Wednesday when he decides which two players he’ll select to compete in the Oct. 3-6 event at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio.
“That’s up to him if I’ve done enough,” said Spieth, who was 26th on the US Presidents Cup points list before the event began. “It would be the greatest honor I’ve ever had.”
Of course Spieth has thought about that honor, but only lately, as he had zero status on the PGA Tour entering the 2013 season.
But Spieth played his way onto the tour as a special temporary member after tying for second at the Puerto Rico Open and seventh at the Tampa Bay Championship.
Then, Spieth earned his tour card for the next two years when he won the John Deere Classic in July. At 19 years, 11 months and 18 days, he became the youngest winner of an event on the PGA Tour since Ralph Guldahl in 1931.
Spieth came close to winning another tour event in August when he finished second at the Wyndham Championship after losing in a playoff.
Then came Monday and what he called “definitely the best round I’ve ever played in my life.”
At the start of the day, Spieth said he had a rough driving range session, which, he added, often leads to some of his better rounds.
The goal coming in, he said, was to have a bogey-free round and play stress free.
Spieth birdied his first two holes, then recorded birdies on Nos. 5 and 6. He strung together seven consecutive pars before his game turned white hot at the finish.
“I was, I guess, in the zone,” the tour rookie said after posting his lowest round of his pro career, besting his fourth-round score of 65 at Wyndham.
It was at Wyndham that Spieth said he started to really think about the Presidents Cup and having a chance to be selected.
“In my mind, the only way to make a statement was play great golf the last few weeks,” he said.
Spieth now has 11 rounds of 66 or better on the PGA Tour in 2013, more than Mickelson (9), Adam Scott (7), and Tiger Woods (6). Spieth, who played at the University of Texas, is also the first player to go from no tour status to the Tour Championship in the same year since Woods in 1996.
Though Spieth said he’s exceeded any goals he had at the beginning of the season, which included making the tour, he’s a contender for the FedEx Cup and is 10th on the points list following this event.
After the tournament, Spieth said he planned to head to Providence, where his brother, Steven, is an incoming freshman guard on the Brown University basketball team.
Spieth said his whole family is here to wish Steven off to school.
“So it might be rough on my mom and sister and dad — well, actually more for my dad than mom,” Spieth said. “Make sure you [write] that. He’d like that.”Baxter Holmes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @BaxterHolmes