Jordan Spieth, the 21-year old wunderkind from Dallas who dazzled a national TV audience by winning the Masters Golf Tournament, recently, may be ranked No. 2 in the world, but he is No. 1 in attention as he prepares for the U.S. Open tomorrow, Thursday, June 18, according to an article in the New York Times. Spieth’s history-making win against Justin Rose in the Masters has vaulted him into the center of international media attention even though Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy is still holding onto the world’s No. 1 ranking as top golfer.
Spieth, who outdueled not only Justin Rose, but also Phil Mikkelsen and Tiger Woods to earn his Masters degree from Augusta National Golf Course recently, proved he has icewater running through his veins in front of a record national television audience.
Rose said afterwards he thought he still had a chance as late as the 71st hole of that heavyweight battle. But he missed a putt while the steely-eyed Texan drained his to pretty much clinch the prestigious Masters title. It is probably appropriate Rose and Spieth are in the same pairing when they tee off at 4:45 p.m. tomorrow.
Spieth’s star has risen as dramatically as quarterback Tom Brady’s has fallen in recent weeks in the wake of the NFL investigation. Following his Masters win Spieth was suddenly a household name with appearances on the Today Show, a tour of New York City and a chat with former President Bill Clinton all in one whirlwind weekend.
And what of McIlroy who has won three tournaments worldwide this year and has already claimed four Majors wins? There may be more pre-tournament speculation about whether Spieth can win the Grand Slam this year than whether the Irishman can win his fifth major.
McIlroy said Tuesday he still felt like the No. 1 player in the world despite the Spieth surge. He said he’s won more majors than anyone else during the last four or five years so he still feels like the globe’s best golfer.
For his part, Spieth is enjoying life. He recently tweeted, “Congrats to #underarmourfamily@StephenCurry30 of the MVP and now #nbachampions!!”
Spieth is the first major golfing figure to sign a contract with Underarmour rather than other established brands such as Taylor Made, Callaway or Nike. So the Underarmour stockholders will all be rooting for the Dallas native Thursday when he tees off at the young Chambers Bay course which is even more youthful than Spieth.
Chambers Bay, near Tacoma, Washington, is only eight years old which makes it the youngest course to host a U.S. Open event in 40 years. Who does it favor?
Maybe even that is in Jordan’s favor. His caddie Michael Geller, is a former “local looper” at Chambers Bay and as such can offer Spieth more insights than anyone else, according to ESPN. Geller gave away some of his secrets when he said Holes 1, 16 and 18 are “veritable accordions, able to be expanded and contracted at the whim of the USGA…and the holes where the U.S. Open will likely be won and lost.”
Several golf commentators in the past week have compared the course to the British Open. There have been wide-ranging discussions about the lack trees and the hardness of the surfaces caused in part by a dr0ught in recent years. One commentator said, “It’d be good for my game because you are guaranteed a good long roll here because of the hardness of the fairways and greens .”
Oddsmakers have installed McIlroy as a 7-1 favorite to tame the challenging course with Spieth not far behind at 8-1. The once nearly-invincible Tiger Woods is in the stratosphere at 50-1 odds.
Tiger was in the hunt for awhile in the Masters, but the oddsmakers evidently aren’t buying a comeback for him in the Open. Whether his recent split with U.S. Olympic champion skiier Lindsey Vonn will affect his game remains to be seen.