It was not so long ago that Jordan Spieth, the former Longhorn and young golf talent, made people wonder if the second coming of Tiger Woods had arrived.
It was April 13, Masters Sunday, and the Dallas native had finished the coveted tournament tied for second-place. Then 20-years-old, he had nearly become the youngest golfer to ever wear the green jacket. He had almost topped men more than ten years his senior.
But “almost” has remained the key word, even after two more major tournaments. He didn’t win at Augusta, and hasn’t come close to claiming his first major since. His name has faded from the headlines, replaced by other talented young golfers like Rory McIlroy.
“It will sting to some extent until I get myself back in that position … and that could be awhile from now,” Spieth said after the Masters. “I just want to be back in this position because it was so much fun.”
Spieth has never been one to let himself permanently fall out of relevancy. His name has been important in golf circles since he was scoring in the 60s as a teenager.
The season’s final major, the PGA Championship this weekend, will be Spieth’s next chance to prove that he can become golf’s best young player.
Spieth has won the Texas high school state championships, the 2012 NCAA national championship, 31 top-25 PGA finishes, one PGA victory and a No. 11 world ranking. But for him to begin a legacy that could match one of the greats by the time he is done, he must win a major soon.
The best golfers of all-time started winning the big ones at a young age, making this year’s PGA Championship especially important for Spieth.
“Maybe last year at this time I would have liked to have just gotten myself into contention on Sunday’s and wouldn’t have known what that would’ve been like,” Spieth said in mid-July before The Open Championship. “But after the Masters and the Players (Championship), those experience have given me confidence that if I’m on my game, I feel like I can win (majors).”
Spieth has proven that he is ready. Yes, he has let go of his lead already twice this year at two big tournaments (Masters and Player’s Championship), but that also means he is just a few holes away.
He tied for 36th at The Open Championship, and his best finish of late was the tournament before that, the John Deere Classic, where he finished tied for seventh. He’s only missed the cut twice in 2014 but hasn’t finished better than second.
Winning a major may be more mental than anything for Spieth. He’s still just 21 years old, and that has shown in major tournaments through his frustrations, especially in The Masters.
But Spieth has always been known for his maturity and confidence. When he is able to channel those strengths, he is at his best on the course.
“I think I’m ready to win a major, and that’s a great feeling,” Spieth said shortly after sinking the last hole. “I’m hungry (to win), to be honest with you.”
Bridging the gap between that hunger for a win and an actual victory is something Spieth will try to prove he is finally ready for at the PGA Championship this weekend.
Quotes from espn.com and golfchannel.com