Sit back and think for a moment. Remember your childhood. When you were 19 years old how did you spend your Sunday? Were you hanging out with your friends? Were you walking through the mall? Did you sit on the couch playing video games? Well that might be what the average 19 year old did but not PGA Tour player Jordan Spieth.
On July 15th 2013 the next step in the maturation process of PGA Professional Jordan Spieth took shape on national television at the John Deere Classic. The 19-year old holed a miracle bunker shot on his final hole for a closing 65 and waited. Zach Johnson came to the 18th needing a par to win his hometown event in back-to-back seasons but could only manage a bogey setting up a three person playoff with Johnson, Spieth and Canadian David Hearn.
YouTube Video Courtesy of pgatour
In each of the first four playoff holes all three players would be unable to capitalize on opportunities to win the tournament. With Hearn forced into a layup and Johnson in the water on the fifth playoff hole Spieth waved off a cut eight iron showing the confidence and mental game of a player twice his age. Instead he pulled a seven iron, taking an aggressive line from the right rough, and played a career altering shot setting up a birdie opportunity. Spieth would miss the birdie but go on to make par and capture his first PGA Tour victory setting up a chartered flight to Scotland for The Open Championship. If you listened to him at the press conference after the John Deere he sounds mature beyond his years.
YouTube Video Courtesy of pgatour
Life for the 19-year old will never be the same. Entering the John Deere Classic Spieth was a special temporary member of the tour but not anymore. Now he is full-time PGA Tour professional with a two year exemption and is about to play in his first major championship. He is also eligible for the season ending Fed Ex Cup playoffs and there is the minor detail of the $828,000 first prize check.
The Under Armor athlete has become the youngest winner on the PGA tour since 1931, that is a span of 82 years. He has done something that Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy could not do. He won as a teenager and became the fourth youngest winner in the history of the PGA Tour. Spieth is now 11th in the Fed Ex Cup standing and ranked 59th in the world.
Do not expect the University of Texas alum to stop and smell the roses. He is part of a new era of golf. A hungry group of players that not only believe they can win but they believe they can win now. This new breed does not believe in seasoning to break through, they have the game and they know it. But is this all we can expect from Spieth? Not by a long shot.
Just shy of his 20th birthday Spieth is showing what is to come. He is ninth on tour in total driving, 28th in ball striking and should show up as third in the all-round. It is that final stat that has me so high on the youngsters future. He isn’t flashy and he does not do anything the best on tour. He is just solid in every category that matters including driving accuracy, sand saves, greens in regulation and any other stat that contributes to the all-around. If you do everything well than success is bound to follow. Since the US Open, where he missed the cut, he has a solo sixth at the AT&T National, a tie for 23rd at the Greenbrier Classic and his breakthrough win at the John Deere Classic.
Success is something Spieth expects and there is no reason to doubt him. In 2010 Spieth accepted an amateur exemption to the Byron Nelson Championship (the first since 1995) and parlayed that into the sixth-youngest player to make the cut. He also joined Tiger Woods as the only players to win multiple US Junior Amateurs when he won in 2011.
He knows how to win, has the game to do it and the ice water that runs through his veins is reserved for only the best on tour. If this is Spieth at 19 I cannot begin to imagine what we will see over the next 15 to 20 years. Will he be one of the best all-time players? That might be a bit of stretch to state now but he will be a flag bearer for the game of golf over the coming years. I would not be surprised if we saw the youngster holding the Claret Jug this coming Sunday cementing the fact that his future is now.