Jordan Spieth’s Magical History Tour

by Dan M | Posted on Saturday, July 18th, 2015

SpiethFirstLook-847-Mike Ehrmann

By Tom Ward
tompward@sbcglobal.net

This weekend the eyes of the sporting world will be focused on Dallas native Jordan Spieth as he attempts to win the 144th playing of the British Open and grab the third leg of the elusive Grand Slam at the historic St. Andrews golf club in Scotland.
The remarkable 21 year old Texan hopes to duplicate a feat that only legendary Fort Worth golfer Ben Hogan did in his magical year of 1953…. winning the Masters, U.S. Open & British Open all in the same year.
Spieth comes to St. Andrews hot off his win at the John Deere Classic where he prevailed over Tom Gillis in a playoff.
His stats in this wrap around season are amazing. He has 6 wins in his last 20 worldwide starts and 11 top 3’s and14 top 10’s in that same span.
He’s the first player to win multiple majors before the age of 22 since Gene Sarazen in 1922-23.
He leads the PGA Tour in wins, scoring average, Top 10’s, putting average, strokes gained, par 4 scoring and earnings.
Spieth has a chance to make history this week as Tiger Woods(2002), Jack Nicklaus(1972), Arnold Palmer( 1960), Ben Hogan( 1953) are the only players to have won the Masters and the U.S. Open in the same season.
What this young man is doing is mesmerizing and with a win at St. Andrews he would leap frog over all of those magnificent players except Hogan and that would setup a possible Grand Slam showdown at the PGA Championship next month at Whispering Straits.
During his Wednesday press conference Spieth was asked about his chances to equal Ben Hogan’s record winning this year’s first 3 majors. A British reporter asked if he was aware that he stands on the brink of a special piece of history?
Spieth replied, “Sure, I’m aware. I like to study the history of golf. To have a chance to do what only one other person in the history of the game doesn’t come around very often so I’m embracing that opportunity.”
When asked about the possibility of having to play in poor weather conditions at the Open Spieth stated, “If we wanted to get good weather we would play in California. You have to remain as positive as you can be. It looks like Friday’s weather forecast could be brutal for everybody. That’s all part of the challenge of playing in this championship. You’re going to hit shots that you hit good and with these rolling hills it could end up in a pot bunker. Or you get a gust of wind and it blows your ball into a bunker and you know that’s  going to happen here. It’s all about how your handle that adversity and rebound quickly.”
Spieth played last week at the John Deere Classic which he won in a playoff. He was asked if he thought coming late to St. Andrews to practice if he was at a disadvantage? Spieth said,
“I think coming over earlier could of helped. I liked the fact I could go somewhere where I could play hard and possibly win a PGA Tour event. More time on this golf course could never hurt anybody.”
Do you think when players see your name on the leader board they get intimidated?
Spieth smiled saying, “I don’t look like an intimidating person. I don’t hit the ball the furthest which is one of the reasons Tiger intimidated people so much. I just find a way to get it in the hole. I don’t feel intimidated by anyone, but when I see a Rory or Dustin Johnson on the leader board I embrace that challenge to knock them off.”
Spieth was asked about his thoughts on fellow Texan Ben Hogan?
“I think he was extremely disciplined. I’ve read a lot about Ben Hogan and he’s one of the few guys I idolized. It’s cool that he’s Texas bred and everyone highly respects both he and Byron Nelson who are two of the biggest names in the state of Texas.”
The Open championship has been good to North Texas golfers as past winners include Ben Hogan (1953), Lee Trevino
(1971 & 1972), Bill Rogers (1981), Justin Leonard (1997), and Todd Hamilton
(2004).
Justin Leonard had an interesting take on the reason Texan’s play well in the Open championship. Leonard said,
“I think it helps that we play in quite a bit of wind, especially in the spring. I think weather-wise we’re prepared to handle the good, the bad and all the in-between.”
The Merry Mexican Lee Trevino chimed in about Spieth’s chances saying, “If the wind blows, he has an excellent chance. If the wind doesn’t blow I think it’s going to be a lot tougher because it brings more people into the equation.”
Players in this week’s tournament with Texas ties include: Ryan Palmer, Rod Pampling, Hunter Mahan, Jimmy Walker, Patrick Reed and former champions Leonard & Hamilton.
I expect Palmer, Mahan, Walker and Reed to be in the mix come Sunday afternoon.

Spieth will have to deal with a stellar field that not only wants to derail his championship run, but win their own championship in the process.
Fortunately for Spieth, current world ranked #1 player, Rory McIlroy is sidelined with an injury from playing futbol.   McIlroy was the main challenge to Spieth and with him out of action that leaves one less dangerous player Jordan has to deal with in his quest for his first Open Championship.
Dustin Johnson who missed a short putt to force a tie with Spieth will be paired with him for the first two rounds. I’ll be curious to see if Johnson has any lingering after effects after that devastating 3 putt on the final hole at the U.S. Open  last month.
Tiger Woods has won two of his British Open titles at St. Andrews and continues to tell anyone that will listen that his game is getting back on track. Woods perhaps could have already passed the great Jack Nicklaus for the most major championships except that his constant tinkering with his golf swing, and his reckless off the course lifestyle, has diminished his chances.
The Open championship will feature the usual cast of characters that hope to mount a charge attempting to put some heat on Mr. Spieth. Heading that list is: Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia, Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson, Webb Simpson, Jason Dufner, Ernie Els  2-time champion) Lee Westwood, Keegan Bradley, and Billy Horschel to name a few..
I think the real challenge for Spieth, if he doesn’t self-implode which I don’t see happening, is going to come from Ricky Fowler who won last week’s Scottish Open and has won the Players Championship this year.
Watch out for Jason Day, Louis Oosthuizen, Henrik Stenson, Ian Poulter and Justin Rose.
I think the long hitting Dustin Johnson will relish his chance to tee it up with Spieth for the first two days in what should have been a U.S. Open playoff….except  Johnson missed that short putt on the 18th green in regulation.
On the sentimental front there are two past Open champions playing his week that should elicit huge cheers from the Scottish fans; three time Open winner Nick Faldo is playing and five time Open champion Tom Watson will tee it up for the last time as he says goodbye to competitive golf at the Open championship.
I hope Watson makes the cut this week. It was just a few short years ago he almost pulled off one of the greatest wins of his career until he bogeyed the final hole at Turnberry and the lost in a playoff to Stewart Cink.
Another factor that will have a hand in determining the winner is the unpredictable Scottish weather.
“As ever, Mother Nature will have a big say in how the course plays over the next four days, but the greens keeping team has done a fantastic job of preparing the course,” said Peter Unsworth, the Chairman of the Championship Committee. “This is 29TH time The Open has been played on the Old Course and the stage is set for another excellent Championship.”
Chief Executive, Peter Dawson, concurred with that view but admitted preparations had been hampered by a recent spell of wet weather. “We were going along pretty well until a week ago Saturday when we had an immense amount of rainfall that morning,” he said. “The place was awash so any thoughts of getting a hard-running brown links disappeared that morning.“But the course has remarkable resilience and dries out extremely quickly,” he added. “In the circumstances, we’re very pleased with the golf course. It looks as if we’re going to have some rough weather coming up, but that’s The Open Championship.”
When asked what it would mean to him to hoist the Claret jug this weekend Speith said,
“It would be amazing. I watched the Open Championships at St. Andrews over the years and I don’t think there is anything more special in golf than playing an Open Championship at the home of golf. I have fond memories from playing here a few years back. St. Andrews and Augusta National are my two favorite places in the world. It would mean the world to win this championship and to win here would be more special.”
I’m rooting for Jordan Spieth to win, but I realize the task facing him will be an enormous challenge and one I believe he will respond to. Hopefully, he can channel his inner Ben Hogan and just go out there are play steady golf and let his playing competitors one by one sabotage themselves coming down the stretch run.
I’ve met Jordan a few times over the past few years and I can tell you the golf world has been blessed with a talented young man that not only plays the game well, but is an exemplary role model. He’s laid the blue print for future athletes on how to handle yourself on and off the golf course with class.
In the end my predication come Sunday is that Jordan rules as he hoists the Claret Jug and ties fellow Texan Ben Hogan as the only two golfers in history to hold those 3 titles at once in the same year.
So far this year in sports we’ve finally seen a Triple Crown Winner after a long drought. Serena Williams achieving her own personal slam of all the major tennis titles and now a young man from Texas has a chance to write his name into the history books and continue forward with his quest for the elusive Grand Slam of Golf.
www.teetimewithtom.com

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