Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

Jordan Spieth Is One of Us

Posted on 22 February 2021 by Sarah Wilmore

According to the official definition, an outlier is a person detached from the main body of a system.

In sporting terms, who springs to mind? Diego Maradona? Ronnie O’Sullivan? Despite also being one of the greats of his sport, Jordan Spieth does not fit this mould.

Embed from Getty Images

This God-loving blue-eyed boy from Dallas became my golfing inspiration and teenage crush. The way he played golf was exciting. It did not matter that he was ranked 78th in driving distance because, with great ease, every putt he struck seemed to rattle into the hole.

The truth is Spieth was one of us.

While his distance was sufficient to compete, it was not strength alone that secured him two Major victories in only his second year on the PGA Tour.

Instead, Spieth made a living out of what every one of us amateurs should work on: putting.

Spieth had a magical touch that turned every green into gold dust, with a waterfall cascading off the side into his back pocket.

And this was something we, or certainly I, could get behind.

For three years, I lived and breathed Spieth. When Spieth played well, I played well.

I have a one handicap and have competed in some of the most competitive Women’s Amateur events in this country (and still do when we are not locked inside). But I was not a long hitter and never would be.

Every time I turned up to an event, I envied the girls that could easily hit it 50 yards past me. And I have been that person that works out for two and a half hours four times a week glugging protein shakes like they are water. But, physically, my height was always going to put me at a slight disadvantage.

Now do not get me wrong, I could increase my distance, and I would be lying if I said I was not currently considering buying myself a set of speed sticks.

But where my strength lay, and where I could gain shots on the rest of the field, was putting. Therefore, I found myself able to connect with Spieth in a way I could not usually with PGA Tour players.

Embed from Getty Images

Spieth was an everyman because he had mastered the art of something that you did not need to be the Incredible Hulk to do.

For three years, I was Jordan Spieth. Whenever my pre-round golf psychology tape said: “Pick one of your favourite players and pretend to be him or her for the entire round,” I proudly strode down the fairway as the putting God himself. And I played some of my best rounds of golf.

Yes, I was obsessed.

But Spieth got engaged to Annie Verret before the 2018 season, and it is difficult for me to stomach that he has not won a tournament since.

However, I could not allow myself to blame Verret. Too often in sport, we see people, typically men, blaming male athletes’ wives or girlfriends for a drop in form. We saw it with Rory McIlroy when he was in a relationship with Caroline Wozniacki. Even more sickening, we saw it when Tiger Woods’ career took a turn for the worse after he crashed into a fire hydrant. The trolls blamed his then-wife, Elin Nordegren, for HIS affair.

I could not be that person. Besides, Verret was Spieth’s childhood sweetheart. As much as I envied her, she was there for his rise to three Major wins, and she would stick by him during his fall.

Embed from Getty Images

But we might now be witnessing Spieth’s resurrection. In the last three weeks, he has finished tied 15th, third and fourth on Tour.

For too long, the talk has focused on Bryson DeChambeau and driving distance. We need the return of the fairy tale, of Spieth showing us that despite not being the longest hitter on Tour, you can still win Major tournaments. Three times as many as DeChambeau, to be precise.

However, the last thing I want to witness happening to one of us is a repeat of his 2016 Masters fall. The truth is Spieth can be our hero once again, but I cannot help worrying we are getting too excited too soon. As we saw at Pebble Beach two weeks ago, the golden child must learn how to win again.