by Jeff Skinner
Jordan Spieth, the latest phenom on the PGA Tour this year, will be looking to make more history this week as the FedEx Cup Playoffs kick off at The Barclays.
As if the just turned twenty year old needs to prove anything else. He already has had the kind of season that many players can only dream of. He starts with no status of any kind, plays on sponsor’s exemptions and parlays his starts into PGA Tour magic.
He made history with his win at the John Deere when he became the youngest player in 82 years to win on tour. He just missed his second win at The Wyndham Championship when Patrick Reed hit the shot of a lifetime to edge him in a playoff. He has seven top tens and has amassed $2.6 million dollars. Not bad for a kid…not bad for anyone really.
Spieth has catapulted up the FedEx Cup standings to eighth and is a cinch to make it to the Tour Championship and a lock for Rookie of the Year.
But if you listen to him he doesn’t sound like a kid. Kids his age are normally worried about grade point average instead of Official World Golf Ranking points. By the way, he’s 36th in the world rankings.
As difficult as it may be to believe he’s an old soul, an old golfing soul in a young man’s body.
At The Barclays on Tuesday I heard him talk in thoughtful, serious tones about his meteoric rise on the PGA Tour. And if you think a kid his age would have his head turned sideways by that ever growing bank account, think again. That’s not his style.
He tried to put his journey in perspective “Yeah, it’s pretty wild. It’s been kind of‑‑ each year there’s been a different step that I’ve kind of‑‑ at the beginning of the year, I’ve had a goal to achieve, to reach that new, higher level, and you know, so far each year, I’ve been on track, and this year, maybe skipped a few steps.
So yeah, like I’ve said before, I don’t really think of my age as my age. When you’re out here, everyone’s your peer. New goals come up each day that I’m trying to reach out and accomplish, and you know, you can’t ever really rest out here. Everybody else passes you up.”
He started this season needing to make a ton of money to earn his card for 2014 but that’s all settled with his performance. “I think the hardest thing to do is to think about money, and when I start the year with no status, it’s very easy to have on your mind, you know, how am I going to make this much money or to get status here and there. I think guys are just kind of throwing that out of their heads.
That’s what I try and do, and that’s how you play fearlessly is to kind of not have any outside distractions and just play the game of golf, and there’s so much talent out there, in junior and college golf now, that the more and more people that can kind of forget about any sort of distractions off course, are definitely capable of coming out here and playing consistently.”
He was asked about his chances of being picked for the Presidents Cup and handled it like an diplomat, “I think my greatest honor that I could ever have in golf is to play for your country.
I have fortunately been able to do it on kind of I guess the highest stages of my career in the past, whether it’s the junior Ryder Cup or the Walker Cup, and honestly, it’s weird. It kind of brings out a little extra fire. I actually seem to play my best golf in match play and in those team events.
It’s just a lot of fun. I just really, really love it. I love standing there and seeing the flag go up. I’m a very patriotic person. I think at this point, it would be a tremendous honor if Freddie were to pick me. I know where I stand and I know that I’m definitely on the outside looking in, but I also know that playing really well these next couple weeks is a way to take care of that.
So, yeah, I mean, it would be‑‑ it would be a goal that if I thought about it at the beginning of the year, I may have left. But at this point I think that it could be a reality, but it’s all going to be on me.”
Captain Fred Couples needs to take a real hard look at selecting Spieth even though he only ranks 28th on the points list. He is one of the hottest golfers on the planet and would not only bring some needed youthfulness to the team but some very serious game: he’s second to Tiger Woods in the All Around Ranking.
His Presidents Cup competition is, in order of points: Steve Stricker, Dustin Johnson, Jim Furyk and Bubba Watson. Of those only Johnson has a win and that was ages ago. Spieth has the credentials right now and is hotter than any of his competition.
Unless he gets a terminal case of the shanks or the yips or something, Couples has to put this kid on the team. Freddy likes to stay in his comfort zone and picking one of the old, or older guard will be easy. Taking Spieth, as obvious a choice as it seems, will be a stretch for Captain Cool. But it’s a move he should make.