Spieth Thinking Like A Champion

May 1, 2015 David Howell No comments

What’s most interesting to me is that it’s all the things you don’t see that make Jordan Spieth the hottest player in the world of golf today.

FIRST, second, second, first! How’s that for five weeks worth of ultra-consistent golf? Oh, and don’t forget to throw in a Green Jacket, and for good measure, a rise to second place in the World Golf Rankings. Jordan Spieth… I salute you.

There have been some amazing feats over the years, be it Tiger Woods with his four Majors in a row, Byron Nelson winning 11 straight tournaments, Colin Montgomerie winning eight successive Orders of Merit, Vijay Singh winning 10 times in a year in his forties, but I can’t recall a stretch of golf over the course of four weeks at the highest level to match the Masters champion’s recent endeavours. At the very least it has to go down as one of the most outstanding stretches of golf in modern history.

What’s more, the man from Texas is a mere 21 years old. He’s the second youngest winner of the Masters, which is just about the only record he didn’t actually beat at Augusta on his way to fulfilling his ‘lifelong dream.’ Did I just say ‘lifelong’? He’s only 21. Many Tour players have had slumps that lasted longer than Spieth’s entire career. One thing is for certain, he needs to come up with some new ‘lifelong’ goals, and fast.
I have the privilege of writing this column in Worldwide Golf for a few reasons. I guess, hopefully, one of them is that being a current Tour player I have some inside knowledge on what’s going on, who’s hot and who’s not.
However, when it comes to Jordan Spieth I have to admit I’m no expert. I’ve never had the pleasure of playing with him, I’ve never even met him and frankly, I’ve probably watched less of him in action on TV than your average armchair golf fan. So my views are formed in just the same way that yours might be, but here’s how I see it:
I see a young guy with a burning desire to do great things in the world of golf. He thinks big and believes that anything is possible. With his ability, he’s entitled to. Outwardly, he looks like he could be the 100th best player in the world rather than the 2nd best.

Don’t take that as a negative observation, however. I’m merely saying that he doesn’t appear to be blessed with a natural talent to swing the club with grace and poise like Rory or Adam Scott, and he doesn’t have the raw power of a young Tiger Woods.

If you saw him putt from short range for the first time, you could be forgiven for thinking that perhaps he has had some putting issues in his short time as a competitive golfer, due to his unique style of looking at the hole rather than the ball.

What’s most interesting to me is that it’s all the things you don’t see that make Jordan Spieth the hottest player in the world of golf today. His swing repeats time after time. He gives the impression of someone who can just do it, without working tirelessly on his swing to constantly improve it, as so many players starting out on Tour feel they need to do. Already he has worked out how he swings the club, what he has to do to play well and he’s figured out a putting style that works for him.

I was on Tour at the age of 20 and realised that if I wanted to be any good, I needed to change a load of things in my game to get better. Tiger won the Masters at 21 years of age and decided he needed to change his swing. I get the distinct impression that Jordan won’t be feeling the need to do any of those things. I expect he’ll work with what he has already got and make the most of it.

What’s most impressive to me is his ability to learn quickly from any mistakes he may have already made in his short but hugely successful career, and to use his strengths to his advantage.

Your average 21 year old doesn’t think in the same way as Jordan Spieth. They don’t play in such a fearless manner. Normally, the occasion of trying to win a Major, for instance, has a bigger impact on their play. Spieth has the knack of thinking like a champion. He appears to me to be able to think like Jack Nicklaus, and that’s the biggest compliment of all.

Moving closer to home it’s great to see the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open going from strength to strength. There’s no doubt that this year’s tournament at Royal County Down will boast the event’s strongest-ever line-up, with huge crowds following many of the world’s best players on one of the world’s finest links courses. As they say in Ireland, it should be great craic.

Following on from The BMW PGA at Wentworth, The European Tour’s flagship event, it should prove to be a brilliant two weeks of golf. Hot on their heels comes the Scandinavian Masters in Malmo, another event attended by many thousands of golf fans.

George O’Grady our CEO is due to hand over the reins to his newly-appointed successor, Keith Pelley. He does so at a time when things are in great shape. You could rightly say he’s bowing out at the top. I say, well done George, thanks for all you have done in your time at The European Tour, and, as they say in showbiz, now it’s over to you Keith.

This article originally appeared in the May issue of Worldwide Golf.

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