A couple of months ago, few golf fans could pronounce his name. But after winning the 2015 Masters and making a major splash on the PGA Tour, everyone knows it Jordan Spieth.
Though he didn’t arrive with the level of hype that surrounded Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy or Phil Mickelson, he eventually may have a larger impact on golf’s record book. McIlroy and others will have a role in determining that.
The 21-year-old was a celebrated junior star and he won a few tournaments at the University of Texas, but he lost some as well. Outside of the Lone Star State and a tight circle of people who follow junior golf, Spieth was largely unknown – until he broke into the spotlight by winning the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic at the age of 19.
Since then, he hasn’t looked back, roaring to No. 2 in the World Golf Rankings. For now, Spieth is pro golf’s fresh new face and the latest to earn the traditional phrases of praise as the next Mickelson, Tiger’s heir, or roaring past Rory. Oh yeah, and he happens to be Myrtle Beach Golf’s Golfer of the Month for May.
So who is this previously unknown prodigy? Spieth is the total package – attractive, articulate, genuinely nice, and seemingly down-to-Earth. So far, we haven’t been confronted by any alleged wild scandals or escapades involving Spieth, and we’ve even waited in grocery lines.
We know all about Tiger’s off-the-course play. We’ve caught him cursing like a sailor, breaking rules and throwing clubs. We’ve heard Rory took a big check to change clubs, sidetracking him for several months when he should have been concentrating on winning majors. Even Lefty, known for his on-camera graciousness, has had his moments when the red light turns off.
But so far Spieth is a clean slate and the closest thing to a golden boy since the Golden Bear. Maybe we just haven’t gotten to know him well enough to find any faults, but so far the only remotely bad thing anyone has had to say about him is his Texas ascent.
Growing up in Catholic schools in Dallas, Spieth matriculated to Austin in 2011, making the cut at the Byron Nelson as a high-schooler after receiving a rare exemption into the field. He was college player of the year while leading the Longhorns to a national championship. Still in college, he finished 21st at the U.S. Open.
Though Spieth was one of the top performers on the PGA Tour, he needed almost two years to win his second Tour event, losing a back-nine duel to Bubba Watson at the 2014 Masters. It wasn’t until he romped past the field at this year’s Masters, equaling Tiger’s record 18-under-par 270 total, that Spieth was designated as the next dominant player. And that’s very debatable considering Rory’s recent victories at the Match Play Championship and Wells Fargo.
So far, we like what we know about Spieth. He’s polite, humble and friendly. He shows remarkable maturity. He is close to his younger, autistic sister Ellie. He’s had the same girlfriend since high school. He celebrated winning the Masters with a Sunday night of fast food and ping pong with his girlfriend and three high school buddies. In his first year on the PGA Tour, he started a foundation to assist special needs children, military families and junior golfers.
On the golf course, Spieth has no weaknesses. He’s accurate with his driver and his irons. He’s fantastic on and around the putting surface. He’s shown remarkable mental toughness. He’s cool under pressure.
Whoever said nice guys finish last better take notice: Jordan Spieth is golf’s next big thing.