PEBBLE BEACH, Calif -- Jordan Spieth couldn't believe what he saw when he reached the end of the fairway of the eighth hole at Pebble Beach during his opening round of the 119th U.S. Open on Thursday.
After considering whether to hit a hybrid on the tee earlier that morning, he elected to hit a 4-iron to play it safe. He didn't want to blast his drive though the fairway and into Carmel Bay, which sits at the bottom of a 100-foot cliff.
When Spieth and his caddie, Michael Greller, reached the end of the fairway, they learned his ball had rolled through the fairway and into the water. His ball had flown about 217 yards but bounced hard and rolled another 45.
Spieth dropped a ball on the other side of the fairway for his third shot, which must carry the cliff and fall onto a small green that is severely sloped to the front. He flew the green and landed in the deep rough behind it.
"I hit two perfect shots and they both ended up in the wrong location," said Spieth, who finished 1-over 72 and is tied for 58th after 18 holes.
While walking to the eighth green, Spieth turned to Greller and said, "Two perfect shots there, Michael. You got me one in the water and one over the green."
Microphones captured their exchange on Fox's TV broadcast, and Spieth was quickly criticized on social media for seemingly throwing his caddie under the bus.
After the round, Spieth said he was only frustrated that he and Greller hadn't come up with the correct number on the third shot. Spieth said they had agreed that a 4-iron was the right club off the tee; Justin Rose, who was playing in Spieth's threesome, also hit a 4-iron and was safely in the fairway.
"We were talking about potentially one less [club on the third shot], and I said, 'But isn't it playing about 60 with a fade?' And then he said yes," Spieth said. "So we both agreed on that. It was clearly a 4-iron off the tee. At the same time, when you hit a couple of shots exactly where you want to, and the first one is in the water and the next one is 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.
"Yeah, I may have looked like the bad guy there, but my intentions were that we should be in play if the ball is hit solidly, and I was out of play on both shots."
After the round, Greller told ESPN that he didn't even remember the exchange.
"What exchange? What did he say? I don't remember." Greller told ESPN's Michael Collins.
Spieth said having shots between clubs was a problem during his opening round, which is even harder at a U.S. Open.
"I feel like I started to swing the club well, but it took until seven or eight," Spieth said. "I hit a lot of good shots and had some in-between numbers. At the U.S. Open, it's hard with in-between numbers because if you take one more and pitch it green high, it's over the green. I felt like I played better than I scored today.
"I had a lot of great putts that dove across the hole or lipped out. It was about the highest I could have shot. I feel fine about where my game is at. It's just kind of a bit unfortunate today."