Spieth’s whirlwind sends him to Maui
Excuse Jordan Spieth if the 2016 Olympics enter his mind.
Spieth is just 2-1/2 years past winning his third Texas high school title, but has already starred on Presidents Cup and Walker Cup teams, and in July became the youngest PGA Tour winner since 1931.
“It’s a long way away, but playing for my country is the greatest honor I’ve ever experienced,” Spieth said in an email. “The Presidents Cup this year and the Walker Cup in 2011 were incredible and I can only imagine what it must be like to be an Olympic athlete. It would certainly be an opportunity of a lifetime.”
When Spieth won the John Deere Classic in July – 13 days prior to his 20th birthday – he qualified for the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, which starts Friday at the Kapalua Plantation Course.
“It didn’t take me long to realize all of the benefits that came with winning,” he said. “I was so excited to get into the Open Championship, the (FedEx Cup) Playoffs, The Masters and the 2014 Hyundai Tournament of Champions.”
After leaving the University of Texas midway through his sophomore year, Spieth proceeded to put together one of the best rookie seasons in the history of the PGA Tour, eventually finishing seventh in the FedEx Cup standings.
He made 18 cuts in 23 events and recorded nine top-10 finishes. In addition to his victory, he finished second three times, including at the Tour Championship – he was the youngest player ever to qualify for the event.
Fred Couples made Spieth a captain’s pick for the Presidents Cup, and he teamed with Steve Stricker to win twice as the Americans defeated the international team.
As a freshman at Texas, Spieth won three college events, helped the Longhorns to an NCAA title and was a first-team All-American.
Spieth is also the only golfer other than Tiger Woods to win the U.S. Junior Amateur twice, doing so in 2009 and 2011.
He finished in a tie for 16th at the 2010 HP Byron Nelson Championship, becoming the sixth-youngest player to make a PGA Tour cut, at 16.
Spieth’s win in the John Deere brings him to Hawaii for the first time. He is one of 30 players in the field, and said it is more than a normal tour stop.
“Absolutely,” he said. “It’s extremely difficult to win on the PGA Tour so you know this week you will be playing against an elite field.”
Spieth has been working on gaining knowledge of the 7,411-yard, par-73 Plantation Course.
“I know that it’s long and tough so it should hopefully suit my game well,” he said. “Some of the guys on tour have given me a few pointers on the Plantation Course and I’ve been working hard with my coach in Dallas to prepare.”
Spieth’s biography on the tour’s website says that his younger sister, Ellie, who was born with a neurological disorder, is his hero. He gives Ellie a keychain as a souvenir from wherever he travels.
“I haven’t been to Hawaii yet, so this is definitely a trip I’m looking forward to for some time,” he said. “I can’t wait to get to get out of the Dallas cold and experience all the great things Maui has to offer.”
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com