Spieth Shows His Class
In the final round of the Valspar Championship in Florida, Jordan Spieth proved exactly why he is considered one of the most talented young golfers in the world.
The 21-year-old from Dallas, Texas, first made the golfing establishment sit up and take notice when he won the 2013 John Deere Classic as a 19-year-old rookie.
The following year he would tie for second place at the Masters, win the Hero World Challenge and travel to Australia at the end of the year to triumph at the Emirates Australian Open.
His most recent victory has made him the third youngest player in PGA Tour history to win multiple PGA Tour events, behind only Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia.
That’s not the only occasion that Spieth has drawn comparison to the modern era’s greatest player. His two U.S. Junior Amateur wins in 2009 and 2011 make him the only person other than Woods to win that title more than once.
If all that wasn’t proof enough of his pedigree, his performance at Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead Course to win the Valspar certainly was.
Trailing by three strokes with just six holes to play, Spieth picked up consecutive birdies at 13 and 14 and then made two improbable par saves over the closing holes to sign for a 2-under-par 69 and force his way into a play-off with Sean O’Hair and Patrick Reed.
On the third play-off hole, Spieth had one more moment of magic up his sleeve, sinking a 30-foot birdie putt that eliminated both Reed and O’Hair in one fell swoop.
While Spieth described his winning birdie as “just luck”, he was more appreciative of the clutch par saves that got him into the play-off.
“I would rank those definitely in the top five I’ve ever had given the lies and the scenario,” he said.
“That was the best Michael (Greller, his caddie) and I have done together.”
Faced with a terrible lie on a down slope after pushing his approach well right of the 17th green, Spieth hit a flop shot that landed perfectly and rolled six feet by the hole, allowing him to save par.
A few minutes later, his second shot out of a fairway bunker on the 18th finished well short, but he saved the day with another clutch wedge shot, despite having a big clump of grass stuck behind the ball. Still left with a 12-footer for a place in the play-off, he made no mistake.
Spieth coped with the pressure down the stretch superbly, and then still had more left in the tank to go and win the tournament. It’s that kind of grit and steel that sets him apart from most 21-year-olds, and one shudders to think what kind of player he will be at 25 or 30.
The victory lifted him up to sixth in the world rankings, and pushed his career earnings past the $10 million mark (did we mention he’s 21?).
With the Masters at Augusta almost upon us, Spieth will now rightly be viewed as one of the favourites, particularly coming off his second place finish there last year.
A full four years younger than World No 1 Rory McIlroy, Spieth might just be the man to challenge the Northern Irishman’s dominance, and provide this generation with a new golfing rivalry to match those from years gone by.
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