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Who won? Spieth, Z. Johnson drop sticks for first-pitch faceoff
PGA Tour

Who won? Spieth, Z. Johnson drop sticks for first-pitch faceoff

Published Aug. 18, 2015 9:45 p.m. ET

PGA star Jordan Spieth's ceremonial first pitch at Tuesday's Texas Rangers game had a little more riding on it than the first time he tossed a first pitch a couple of years ago.

Of course, that was before 22-year-old Spieth won two majors, this season's Masters and U.S. Open. Spieth also finished tied for fourth at the British Open and recently finished second at the PGA last weekend.

So when Spieth tweeted out that he was "bringing the heat" for Tuesday's first pitch at the Rangers-Mariners game at Globe Life Park, fellow PGA pro and 2015 British Open winner Zach Johnson responded by issuing a challenge.

Johnson was scheduled to throw the first pitch at the Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field the same night and tweeted, "How about dinner on who throws the better pitch?"


That brought out the competitor in Spieth, who tweeted back, "Old man ... I'd be surprised if you reach the plate. #crowhop"

To which Johnson replied that Spieth wouldn't have the benefit of his caddy giving him a read from the pitching rubber.

A Johnson tweet claimed the two decided on the loser making a $5,000 donation to a charity supported by the winner.

As it turned out, Spieth didn't need any help. Wearing a white Rangers jersey with his name and the number one on the back, Spieth fired a strike — left-handed.

"It was fun banter today back and forth," Spieth said when he met the media afterward. "Hopefully ESPN brings it out tomorrow side-by-side and judges it. I think we might get a nice Zach Johnson check coming our way."

The Twitter accounts for the Rangers and Cubs also got into the act. While the Rangers posted about Spieth throwing "a hard strike," the Cubs tweeted that Johnson "registered 95 on the radar gun." 

There was no official ruling, but it seemed Johnson felt that Spieth threw the better pitch. Plus, Johnson's sponsor tweeted it will make a donation, too.

Spieth, who just achieved the No. 1 world ranking, obviously is accustomed to performing under pressure. He threw out the first pitch once before at a Rangers game in 2013, but did some extra preparation this time.

"Last time I was a little weak with it and just kind of lobbed it in," he said. "This time I threw some pitches in the cages before and put a little speed on it to try and get ready.

"As long as you don't bounce it, I think it's a success. I got it over the strike zone too, so that was nice."

Speaking before his pitch at Wrigley Field, Johnson said he was more nervous about leading the crowd in the singing of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the seventh-inning stretch.

"I'd like to say my pitching mirrors my game on the golf course, so I'll say over the plate is a good pitch and leave it at that," he said.

Spieth, having grown up in Dallas, is no stranger to Globe Life Park. But watching games up close is something of a new experience.

"My dad and I would go up and we would just kind of like sneak down as the game went on to better and better seats," said Spieth, who sat the front row near the Rangers' on deck circle Tuesday after throwing out the first pitch.

It's a different vantage point than when Spieth would attend Rangers games with friends as he grew older.  

"We normally just like to come and sit up in the nosebleeds and just have a good time with that," Spieth said. "But this is a cool experience, too, sitting down here, low, being able to see all the action."

In fact, it was at a Rangers game when a young Spieth lost a pop-up in the lights while playing in the grassy area beyond center field.

"That's how I got my two front teeth knocked out, was at this ballpark," Spieth said.

It wouldn't be surprising to see Spieth at more Rangers games if the PGA Tour schedule and his newfound celebrity allow it.

"My whole life, I'm just a Dallas sports fan, every team ... Cowboys, Stars, Rangers, Mavs," Spieth said. "They're [the Rangers] by far my favorite baseball franchise."

Spieth's affection for one particular Dallas-area sports team has become well-known on the PGA Tour.

"It's funny now," Spieth said. "Every tournament I go to, at least once a round somebody yells out from the crowd, 'Dez caught it! Dez caught it!' It's amazing."

Johnson, 39, said he is more of a college football and college basketball fan than baseball, and he played a lot of soccer as a kid.

"But when it comes to going to a game, going to a venue, going to the park, it doesn't really compare (to baseball)," he told The AP. "I mean beer and peanuts. I mean I'm a happy camper. My boys are playing it now, so obviously that becomes an element and a part of it. We do lot in the summer, just throwing the ball around in the park." 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Follow Keith Whitmire on Twitter: @Keith_Whitmire


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