In case you’ve been living under a rock the past few days, Jordan Spieth just won the Open Championship.
It was his third major. His eleventh tour win. And just four days before his 24th birthday. Only Jack Nicklaus reached 3 majors at a younger age. He is in elite company.
The crazy part? That doesn’t even really tell the story. How he did it makes it even more unbelievable.
As they say, there are no pictures on a scorecard. A one under par round and a three shot victory sounds pretty standard. However, when Spieth made bogey on three out of his first four holes, it looked like the wheels were coming off.
He seemed to (sort of) steady the ship before hitting a ball off the map on the 13th hole. He was so far off the fairway that when he had to take an unplayable lie, he was closer to the driving range than the fairway. After nearly a half hour of deliberation, he hit a 240 yard 3 iron just short of the green. Then he made an all-world up-and-down to save a bogey.
That’s when the momentum shifted. He may have lost the lead on that hole, but he found something in his game. He nearly aced the next hole and followed it up with an eagle. In all, he played his final 5 holes in 5 under par to become the Champion Golfer of the Year.
The craziest part? He may just be getting started.
He is ahead of the pace of Tiger Woods in PGA TOUR wins and Major Championships before his 24th birthday. He doesn’t overpower golf courses and send his competitors cowering with his raw talent. He is as educated a golfer as the world has maybe ever seen. He hits foul balls off the tee. He gets down on himself. He’s animated, for better and worse.
But he gets the ball in the hole.
I recently heard an analyst say, if you saw him hitting balls on the range next to Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Jason Day, you would never pick him to win on a given day. And yet, here he is, the next superstar. He has that “It factor” that allows himself to elevate his game in the biggest moments. He will never be the longest player on tour, and will never lead the Tour in driving accuracy. His game can be ugly at times, yet he is in contention nearly every time he tees it up. He converts 36 and 54 hole leads into victory with near Tiger-like regularity.
Leave it to DJ, Rory and Jason to wow viewers with towering drives. But for my money, Jordan Spieth will have far and away the more impressive career when all is said and done. I think he ends up with more than ten major victories, and could possibly surpass Mickelson’s PGA Tour win total.
It may not always be pretty, but boy is it sweet. We will enjoy watching Spieth hoist the biggest trophies for decades to come, and for that we are thankful.