Plamondon: Spieth win offers glimpse into golf’s future
Brian Plamondon | Wednesday, April 15, 2015
In May, the class of 2015 will receive their diplomas amidst a memorable graduation weekend filled with family and friends. Jordan Spieth could have had that same experience if he had stayed a full four years at the University of Texas. Instead, he turned pro early. And now, just a month before he would have graduated, he’s won his first major title at the Masters.
Spieth didn’t only win the Masters, he manhandled the entire field. He became the tournament’s first wire-to-wire champion in 39 years. On Sunday, when every golf fan would have understood if he had cracked under the pressure, he kept his head down and never gave anyone a chance. Every time a challenger would close the gap, Spieth would roll in a birdie putt and say, “Not so fast.”
Two months ago I wrote a piece about how Rory McIlroy is the face and future of golf while Tiger Woods needs to be forgotten — and I stand by that. But Rory needs to watch out, because Jordan Spieth is the real deal.
His performance at Augusta National was nothing short of jaw dropping. He tied Tiger’s Masters scoring record and became the second youngest winner ever of the tournament. He set a Masters record for most birdies. Rory even said himself after the round that his score of -12 (six behind Spieth’s) would win most years. Sure, Spieth robbed us of some Sunday drama, but wasn’t it pretty cool to see someone dominate the field like that?
And the thing about Spieth is he does it the right way. He’s polite and respectful but not shy about where he thinks his talent and skill can take him. He carries himself around the golf course like someone 10 years his senior yet still shows that raw emotion that can energize a fan base. He embodies a true champion, someone everyone can get behind. He lets his golf do the talking.
The best part about Spieth, though, is how driven he is. Although he already has a fantastic skill set, Spieth isn’t the most talented golfer on the course most weeks. He does, however, want it more than others. There are a lot of golfers that can only get amped up for the major tournaments, and I get it — playing a schedule of 25 to 30 tournaments a year, you can really get burned out. For Spieth, it doesn’t matter if it’s the Masters or the Valspar Championship, he gives 110 percent week in and week out. How else can you explain his last four tournaments? He’s finished first, second, tied for second and first. I can’t wait to see him when his game matures and he feels more comfortable with his shot-making capabilities on courses that will become familiar. He’s only going to get better.
Whether he likes it or not, Spieth’s going to become the face of American golf as Tiger vanishes further and further into oblivion.
He has officially arrived, and now he’ll lead a host of American youngsters that need to make golf fresh again in the eyes of the American public and shepherd in the next generation. Help will come from the likes of Patrick Reed, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler, but it starts with Spieth. Making America forget about Tiger yet still care about golf is a daunting task, but a few more performances like this past week from Spieth should be a wake-up call.
Even with a runaway victory, the Masters saw television ratings jump 26 percent from last year. People want to see this kid duke it out with Rory over the next decade and a half.
If this past week was any indication, the future of golf is bright.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.