Tiger Woods

Jordan Spieth, bottom center, celebrates with the men’s golf team after winning the 2012 NCAA Men’s Golf Championship. Spieth broke multiple records at this year’s Masters Tournament and tied Tiger Woods’ record for lowest overall score.

Photo Credit: Marisa Vasquez | Daily Texan Staff

Jordan Spieth has much in common with the average UT student. The former Longhorn, who attended the University from 2011–2012, calls Dallas home, avidly roots for the Cowboys, and celebrated his 21st birthday in July.

But on Sunday, Spieth made history, trading in his burnt orange for a green jacket and joining a slightly more prestigious club.

Spieth won the 2015 Masters Tournament with a score of 18-under par, tying a record set by Tiger Woods in 1997. Spieth is the fifth player in history to lead the tournament from start to finish and the first wire-to-wire champion since Raymond Floyd in 1976.

It was a record-breaking weekend for Spieth, who set the Masters record for lowest score through 36 holes (-14) and 54 holes (-16) and tied the 72-hole score record (-18). Additionally, he broke Phil Mickelson’s record for most birdies at the Masters with 28 and became the first person to reach 19-under par at Augusta. Spieth is also among the youngest winners of the tournament, barely older than Woods was when he won almost two decades ago.

CBS anchor Jim Nantz called Spieth’s Masters showing “one of the epic performances in the history of the sport,” claiming that “a new era has arrived.”

It is undeniable that Spieth’s success at such a young age rivals only that of four-time Masters champion Woods. It’s been nearly two decades since Woods arrived on the scene and revived the sport in the late 1990s. With his classic good looks, southern charm and rare ability to play golf nearly perfectly, Spieth is well on his way to reigniting golf’s waning popularity.

“It’s truly inspiring to see the type of things you can accomplish by putting in hard work, especially when they are done by a guy as nice and humble as Jordan,” said Connor Bush, mechanical engineering junior and a former high school classmate of Spieth’s. “It’s crazy to think that someone I used to walk by in the halls every day is going on to accomplish such incredible feats.”

Incredible feats they are. This marks Spieth’s third win on the PGA Tour. Following this Masters win, he will rise to No. 2 in the world. 

“What a week and day for Jordan,” said Ryan Murphy, former Texas men’s golf assistant coach. “He’s a very special young man, and I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to coach and be around him during his time at Texas. His winning the Masters does not surprise me. He’s as strong mentally as any young person that I have been around. It is a great day for the Spieth family as well as the Longhorn family.”

As golf gears up, focus is placed on Tiger Woods' remarks

A lot has been going on in the golf world.

U.S. golfers Charley Hoffman and John Hahn have had good starts to the season.  Hoffman won his first tournament in over four years Sunday at the OHL Classic in Mayakoba, Mexico, while Hahn, who participated on the European Tour, shot a 58 in the final round of the Q-school. 

Even Donald Trump made news in the golf world by announcing he wants to change the Turnberry’s championship Alisa Course 9th hole from a par-4 to a par-3.  Turnberry has hosted the British Open Championship four times and this change is not setting well with golf traditionalists.  However, if they are concerned about this change, be prepared for more to come.     

Needless to say, no one cares what the golfers and Trump are up to.  All that matters to most fans currently are the issues between Dan Jenkins and Tiger Woods

Dan Jenkins, former Sports Illustrated reporter and author, wrote a parody for his monthly article in Golf Digest. 

Jenkins wrote this article based on a fake interview he created with Tiger Woods and nothing was off limits.  From poking fun at Woods’ lack of winning, to being a bad tipper, firing coaches, and being narcissistic about his performance being the only great moments in golf.  One might argue Jenkins covered just about everything with Tiger.

Jenkins' work though got under the skin of Woods. Woods published a piece for The Players’ Tribune, a website owned by Yankees great Derek Jeter, by decrying the fake interview and sending a separate letter to the Golf Digest asking for an apology. 

"[Jenkins] has no idea how I think or feel about any of the things he claims to know about, which is why he had to make things up," Woods wrote. "All athletes know that we will be under scrutiny from the media.  But this concocted article was below the belt.”

Whether Woods admits it or not, the relationship between he and Jenkins has been tainted since he entered pro golf.  Jenkins has covered more than 60 straight Masters and over 200 of golf’s biggest tournaments and entered the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.  Yet with all of that, he has never done a sit down interview with Woods since his arrival in 1996. 

But as Woods continues to fall in the world of golf, he found a way to be in the spotlight again, this time not for the right reason.     

Tiger getting busier while Rory still dealing with lawsuite

As professional golf waits for the season to gear up again, Tiger Woods eyes a return, while Rory McIlroy continues to settle his lawsuit with his management company. 

After pulling out of the PGA Championship due to back issues, Woods will return to the golf course to participate in his foundation’s tournament, the Hero World Challenge, on Dec. 4-7. 

According to Woods’ agent, Mark Steinberg, Tiger is still listening to his doctors.  The former great is having had back surgery on March 31, while also returning to the golf course in June, participating in four events.  However, he pulled out of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and a week later missed the cut on Aug. 8 at the PGA Championship. 

Woods began the year ranked highly, but fell to 17th because of his results and inactivity. 

Yet as Woods works to get back to course play, he announced on Tuesday that his first golf course, El Cardonal course at Diamente in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, opens on Dec. 16. 

He plans to open a course called Bluejack National, near Houston, but we will have to wait to see how his first course turns out.  Woods has tried to design courses in the Dubai desert, Asheville, North Carolina, and Mexico’s Baja Coast, but none of them came through. 

Now that we have looked at the former No. 1 player, what is Rory McIlroy, the current No. 1 player up to? 

McIlroy is skipping the European Master’s BMW Master’s at the end of October and the PGA Tour’s WGC-HSBC Champions during November to devote time to his lawsuit against former management company Horizon Sports.  Supposedly during mediation talks, he and Horizon Sports could not reach an agreement and a February 2015 court date has been set. 

Even with taking some time off, McIlroy will return to the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai on Nov. 20. 

However, this court date could affect his tournament schedule for 2015.  He is still listed to participate in the Euro Tour’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship and the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in January. 

These tournaments will be beneficial for McIlroy as he prepares to complete golf’s career grand slam to win the Masters this year.         

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 

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Alongside the rest of the golfing world, Jordan Spieth was forced to watch Bubba Watson sink putt after crucial putt en route to a final-round comeback that gave him his second green jacket in three years. Although Spieth could not maintain the pace set by Watson, the former Longhorn gave a debut that was notable in ways that cemented him in Masters history.

The 20-year-old Spieth had all of America buzzing as he entered the tournament’s final day tied atop the leaderboard at 5-under-par, within striking distance of passing Tiger Woods to become the youngest player to ever win the Masters. This prospect became even more attainable when he jumped out to a 2-stroke lead after the seventh hole.

Unfortunately, things momentarily unraveled for him on the eighth and ninth holes, as he bogeyed each while Watson sunk back-to-back birdie putts in a sudden 4-stroke swing. In the end, overcoming these blunders proved too tall a task for the Texas ex, as he finished 3 strokes behind Watson.

On the surface, many have pointed to Rory McIlroy’s 2011 collapse and argue Spieth’s performance mirrors it. McIlroy, who was 21 years old at the time, also could not maintain a multiple-stroke lead in the final round with a chance to become the second youngest player to win the green jacket.

The comparisons stop there, though. Spieth’s final round resembled nothing close to McIlroy’s breakdown three years ago, when the Northern Irishman choked away a four-shot lead by shooting an 80 over the final 18 holes, which equates to a score of 8 over par. When it was all said and done, he finished tied for 15th and 10 strokes off the leader.  

To this day, McIlroy’s performance is considered one of the biggest meltdowns in Masters history. Spieth, on the other hand, shot a 72 on Sunday, giving him an even score for the day. While it wasn’t enough to keep up with Watson, who clearly looked more confident as he made his late charge, his final round wasn’t a collapse. If anything, it was a testament to his mental fortitude.

After bogeying the last two holes on the front nine, Spieth could have easily folded under the pressure. Instead, he maintained his composure, finishing tied for second and finishing just one over par on the back nine.

Despite coming up short, Spieth showed resolve and maturity that far exceed his youth. At 20 years old, he missed his chance to surpass Tiger as the youngest Masters champion but has simultaneously emerged as a household name. With a sharp mind and the skill set to match it, Spieth will no doubt become a familiar face atop PGA Tour leaderboards for years to come.   

Bubba Watson strikes a shot from the bunker. Watson won the Masters in the a thrilling playoff against Louis Oosthuizen for his first Major championship.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

He’s had his shot to wow me, but after yesterday’s exciting finish at the Masters, I’ll just admit it: Yes, golf is exciting without Tiger Woods, and no one proved that more than the top two performers Sunday afternoon.

Champion Bubba Watson and runner-up Louis Oosthuizen were never meant to wear a green jacket this year. Woods, who was coming off a huge win at Bay Hill, and Rory McIlroy were the talk of the town coming into the event but puttered out early. They both finished five over par.

Familiar faces like Fred Couples and Phil Mickelson had their moments, but the former Masters champions couldn’t keep pace with the youth.

Not Vijay Singh, not Padraig Harrington, not Angel Cabrera. No established golfer had a shot against the creativity and courage of Watson and Oosthuizen who played one of the most dramatic sudden-death playoffs at the Masters in
recent history.

Each had their opportunity to put the other away on the first hole of the playoff, the 18th. Oosthuizen, who at 29-years-old could’ve been one of very few golfers to win the British Open and the Masters, saw his ball hug the outside edge of the cup, only to then travel a few inches past it. It was an otherwise flawlessly calculated putt, but the golf gods simply wouldn’t allow it to drop without heightening the drama. The pair both took par on the hole which set up the grand finale on the 10th.

From the 10th tee, Watson sent a dinger into the deep pine needles and Oosthuizen fell into the rough but had a much easier route to the hole than Watson, and the playoff looked all but over. It was going to be predictable.

But then, as Watson had done all Sunday, he crafted a creative shot that got me out of my seat. It wowed me, let alone the rest of the golf world. The lefty hooked a shot, at what felt like at 90 degree angle, around towering Augusta pines and landed on the green. Oosthuizen finished with a bogey, and Watson sunk par before bawling into his family’s arms.

As someone who watches golf frequently but only really to see how Woods will fare, I can’t remember watching a more exciting event since Woods won the U.S. Open on one good leg. Whether he wins or loses, the story about the event always ends up centered on him. Is Tiger back? Will he ever win? Can he repeat?

After Sunday, it was apparent that the golf narrative will no longer be solely about Woods as it has been for the past decade. The lore of Oosthuizen and Watson and other great up-and-coming golfers who have lived in Woods’ umbrage are coming out from the shadows. Their legends will build and we will remember these emotions just as we did when Woods wowed us for so many years prior. People will remember Oosthuizen’s double-eagle, the rarest of birds. Or they’ll talk about Watson’s mental fortitude to pull out a victory knowing his wife and newborn son were at home.

So it is time. I’m hanging up my Tiger-centric hat, and I know a few of you who wear one that can do the same. I understand that he made the game electrifying for me and many other fans by achieving a level of dominance the sport had seldom seen. But now it’s time we marvel in the excitement that others are creating and wait for the next golf great to emerge.

Printed on Monday, April 9, 2012 as: Watson wins Masters with spectacular finish

The Super Bowl capped off this Sunday and the New York Giants are world champions. Now football fans everywhere are panicking and wondering, what am I supposed to watch until football starts up again in August?

Well calm down NFL fanatics, here is a list of great sporting events, month by month, you can check out to hold you over until opening kickoff 2012.

February
Feb. 6-12 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am

This event marks the return of the world’s most famous — or infamous, depending on who you talk to — athlete Tiger Woods to the PGA tour. Woods will be looking for his first tour victory since 2009. The event also features celebrities Bill Murray, Ray Romano and Aaron Rodgers.

Feb. 24-26
NBA All-Star Weekend

The lockout couldn’t prevent an NBA season from happening, and as a result sports fans still get to watch the most entertaining All-Star game in professional sports. Plus you get to see Blake Griffin dunk, reason enough to tune in right there.

March
College Basketball (that’s all you need next month)

March Madness! There are conference championship tournaments, bubble teams, upsets, bracket competitions, bracket busters, Cinderella stories and enough basketball a day to make a person call in sick more than a few times. What more could a fan want?

March 28-29
MLB opening day

One of the purest days in all of sports as 32 teams open up their 162 game marathon. Every team has a clean slate, fans still believe their team has a chance — yes, even Cubs fans — and they come out in droves. Opening day is something every sports fan should experience at least once.

April 2-8 Masters Tournament

Perhaps the classiest event in all of sports, the Masters is the golf’s most prestigious major and is always good for a weekend of father-son bonding. Expect Woods and up-and-comers like Rory McIlroy to battle it out for the Green Jacket.

April 26-28 NFL Draft

Alright NFL fans, by this point I know you’re going through serious football withdrawals, which is why the NFL has scheduled its annual draft extravaganza in late April. Tune in to see who your favorite team drafts to help alter the course of the franchise forever.

April 28
NBA playoffs start

Can LeBron James finally win a ring? Can Kobe Bryant win his fifth? Will the Mavericks repeat or was their run just a fluke? These are just a few of the storylines that will be a part of the NBA playoffs this year. The playoffs feature the highest level of basketball played all season and is definitely worth anyone’s time. Yes, even you Clippers fans — you actually have a shot for once.

July 25-Aug. 12
Summer Olympic Games in London

Almost every country in the world comes together every four years for the Olympic Games, and luckily for sports fans, the London games are finally here.

National pride will be on the line, and sports fans have a wide variety of events for their entertainment, whether it’s basketball or power walking, there is something for everyone.

You have the opportunity to watch world class athletes like Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps do what they do best, compete. And if nothing else, any fan can tune in to root on the red, white and blue — I can already hear the USA chants from here.

Printed on Thursday, February 9, 2012 as: Plenty of exciting sporting events still to come this year

A two-time U.S. Amateur champion, freshman Jordan Spieth has quickly become one of the LonghornsÂ’ most prolific golfers. In just four tournaments this year, Spieth has already recorded his first collegiate win and is currently ranked as the No. 1 individual golfer in the NCAA.

Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

Entering his first season at the University of Texas, freshman golfer Jordan Spieth set a goal to become the top collegiate golfer in the NCAA. He just did not expect it to happen so soon.

Just three events into his Longhorn career, Spieth has surpassed his high expectations for this season, rising to the top spot of the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings as college’s No. 1 individual golfer on Oct. 31. Spieth has finished among the top-six individual golfers in every event he has competed in so far, including a first-place finish at the Ilseworth Collegiate Invitation on Oct. 25, where he shot a 205 (-11) to led the field by eight shots.

Not coincidentally, the Longhorns have won each of the three tournaments that Spieth has played in, and Texas has climbed to the top spot in the national rankings. As a team, the Longhorns golfers have performed extremely well overall in 2011, and Spieth is pleased that he has been able to provide immediate contributions.

“I set goals coming in that went along with the team goals, and I’m just happy that I’m playing well individually and helping the team win,” Spieth said. “We are where we want to be, and we are better than we expected [at this point] and, individually, I’m just trying to do my job.”

Spieth’s success at Texas should not come as much of a surprise.

As the U.S. Junior Amateur champion in 2009 and 2011, Spieth joined Tiger Woods as the only golfer to win the championship multiple times. In 2009, he was named Rolex Junior Player of the Year, and before turning 18, he held the top spot in the Polo Golf Rankings.

In his junior and senior years at Dallas Jesuit College Preparatory, Spieth accepted an exemption to compete in the PGA Tour’s HP Byron Nelson Championship, where he made the cut both years and finished in a tie for 16th place in 2010 and in a tie for 32nd in 2011.

In September, Spieth competed with 20 of the top amateur golfers in the world when he represented the United States in 2011 Walker Cup, where he finished as the nation’s leading scorer.

Despite all of his accomplishments at the amateur level, Spieth believes that he has elevated his play even more since joining the Texas golf team, and he credits his teammates for much of this improvement.

“I think that since I’ve gotten to UT, I’ve gotten better and probably the biggest factor has been being able to learn from the [other Longhorn golfers],” Spieth said. “When you’re playing against these guys everyday, it’s going to make you better, along with the guidance of [Texas head golf coach John Fields].”

And while Spieth has tried to learn as much as possible from the more experienced golfers on team, senior Dylan Frittelli believes that the standout freshman’s personality and work ethic have helped make everyone else on the Texas roster better as well.

“He’s really energetic,” Frittelli said. “He’s not necessarily bouncing off walls, but he is very intense, very energetic and this correlates to good results. He’s a great player and he basically spurs you on days you play with him because you are just trying to compete with him.”

The Longhorn coaching staff has been equally impressed with Spieth and they believe that he has been an extremely strong addition to an already skilled team.

“He’s definitely meant a lot [to the team] in terms of his desire and confidence,” Fields said. “It was already a good team that he joined, with two All-Americans in Dylan Frittelli and Cody Gribble, and he has invigorated the program. He’s had a positive impact on the team, and that is including the coaches.”

Looking forward, Spieth has high aspirations of being the top player on the PGA Tour, and his dream is to win the Masters. For now, though, the freshman is focused on continuing to help the Longhorns win tournaments and compete for a national title, and no player will likely be more important in obtaining that team goal than Spieth himself.

Published on Friday, November 18, 2011 as: Spieth sizzles as season starts up

The collegiate golf season is only about a month old, but the Longhorns are already playing at mid-season form. Behind two straight tournament victories and exceptional rounds from freshman Jordan Spieth, Texas is now the nation’s top-ranked team.

Spieth, a Dallas native, is not your average college freshman. He has already claimed two U.S. Amateur Championship titles, one in 2009 when he was 16 and the other just this year. The only other golfer ever to achieve this feat is Tiger Woods. Spieth hasn’t reached Tiger’s level of play just yet, but if he keeps playing the way he has this year, he’s not too far off. Spieth has also participated in the last two HP Byron Nelson Championships held in Dallas. He tied for 16th in 2010 and even missed his high school prom to tie for 32nd in this year’s event. Now that’s dedication. Amateurs are not allowed to collect any earnings in tournaments, so Spieth gained only experience by playing with PGA Tour professionals.

In the Longhorns’ most recent tournament, the Jack Nicklaus Invitational, Spieth paced the Longhorns with rounds of 73-66-72 and finished tied for second on the individual leaderboard. Spieth has been getting out to fast starts in each of the club’s first three tournaments this year. His first-round average of 69 ranks No. 20 in the nation and is a big reason Texas has won consecutive tournaments for the first time since 2006.

There’s no doubt that he’s a special player, but he is still growing. That’s evidenced by how he finished the Jack Nicklaus Invitational. He was not able to capitalize on his low round of 66 and close out the rest of the field. His last round average of 74 ranks much lower in the nation at 1,183rd.

“Jordan’s finish was bittersweet,” said head coach John Fields. “These last two tournaments have been contested at championship-caliber courses that are set up for tough finishes. There have been some tremendously difficult finishing holes. But Jordan is a team player and is focused on the same goal as his teammates — winning tournaments.”

Spieth is currently ranked 12th in the nation individually and is one of three Longhorns ranked in the top-50 nationally. Senior Dylan Frittelli has not finished lower than seventh in an event this year and sits at No. 3 in the nation while redshirt junior Julio Vegas is ranked 39th.

We could be witnessing the best golfer to come through Austin since the likes of Ben Crenshaw and Justin Leonard, who have both gone on to make a pretty comfortable living on the PGA Tour. Spieth still has a lot to learn, but he’s well on his way to becoming one of the nation’s top golfers.

Printed on Thursday, October 13, 2011 as: Spieth helps Horns earn top ranking after strong start 

AKRON, Ohio — Adam Scott hit all the right shots Sunday in a round that was close to flawless and earned him his first World Golf Championship title.

He celebrated with a caddie who has won quite a few more.

Steve Williams, fired last month by Tiger Woods after a 12-year partnership, felt like a bigger winner when Scott rolled in one last birdie for a 5-under 65 and a four-shot victory in the Bridgestone Invitational.

It was Scott who hit the shots, such as a chip-in for birdie on the 12th and a birdie putt just inside 30 feet on the 14th that enabled him to pull away from 19-year-old Ryo Ishikawa over the final hour at Firestone.

Even so, Williams became part of the show this week, especially since Woods was playing for the first time in nearly three months. Williams took a jab at Woods in an interview off the 18th green by saying that of his 145 wins in his 33 years as a caddie, this WGC title with the affable Australian made it the “the greatest week of my caddying in my life.”

That would include 13 majors, including an unprecedented four in a row through the 2001 Masters.

Fans chanted Williams’ name as he walked toward the 18th green, and Williams smiled back. One fan shouted out, “How do you like him now, Tiger?”

Scott played the final 26 holes without a bogey, and he couldn’t afford to drop any shots.

He finished at 17-under 263 for the lowest winning score at Firestone since Woods won at 259 in 2000. Rickie Fowler and world No. 1 Luke Donald each had a 66 and tied for second.

Scott became the third Australian to win a world title, joining Geoff Ogilvy and Craig Parry. He won for the 18th time in his career and moved back into the top 10.

While his old boss was on the mend, Williams agreed to caddie for Scott at the U.S. Open, miffed that he had flown from New Zealand to America before Woods told him he would not be at Congressional. Williams worked for Scott again at the AT&T National, the tournament that benefits Woods’ foundation, and Woods said he fired him after the final round.

Woods said he told him face-to-face. Williams said Sunday that Woods fired him over the phone.

The theatrics took away from Scott’s big win.

He played so well he could have gone even lower except for missing two birdie putts inside 12 feet on the 16th and 17th holes.

“Today, I was on,” Scott said. “To win here at this place, a World Golf Championship, it’s huge.”