Spieth Attempts To Continue Magical Golf Year In Scotland

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Spieth Goes For Third Major of 2015 At St. Andrews

By John Ventola

Country singer Keith Urban recently released the masterfully written “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16”. Golf swinger Jordan Spieth has cut his own recent record path, The Masters, U.S. Open, John Deere, 7/16—the start date of The 144th Open (British Open).

Spieth, who bested Tom Gillis Sunday in the second hole of a playoff at the John Deere

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Spieth’s Golf Game Belies His Young Age

Classic, will tee off Thursday at St. Andrews as the favorite to capture his third major championship of the year, and the third leg of a career Grand Slam.

While 18 of the world’s top 25 ranked players steered clear of competition last week to work on their games individually, Spieth chose to participate at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Illinois. The other six top rated players played at the Scottish Open with Rickie Fowler capturing that event. After shooting a disappointing Thursday opening par round 71, the 21-year-old phenom righted himself with rounds of 64, 61, and 68, topping Gillis with a par on the second playoff hole. Spieth shot a career best 10 under par Saturday.

Entering Sunday with a four shot lead, Spieth played one over par golf through the first twelve holes before rallying with four birdies in the last six holes to tie Gillis. He became the first golfer to win four championships in a season before The Open since Tiger Woods accomplished the feat in 2000. The young Texan has been on quite a streak since he won the Australian Open and Hero World Challenge in consecutive weeks in late 2014. His first victory came at the John Deere Classic in 2013 as a 19-year-old.

Rory McIlroy, who was named the 2014 PGA Tour Player of the year, his second such recognition in three years, failed to give Spieth much of a battle at The Masters and the

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McIlroy Injury Will Sideline Defending Champion

U.S. Open. McIlroy won The Open and PGA championships last year, and with his 2011 U.S. Open title, is three-fourths of the way to a career Grand Slam. He has not won at The Masters, finishing fourth this year, and he finished tied for ninth at the U.S. Open.

Spieth’s emergence, and the overall golf game fashioned by McIlroy over the last four years, has had fans of the game looking forward to competitions between the two young stars. However, an ankle injury suffered by McIlroy as he kicked a soccer ball around with friends the week after the U.S. Open will keep him sidelined for The Open and unable to defend his title.

Whether winning in runaway fashion as he did with his wire-to-wire victory at The Masters, capturing a title because an opponent cracked under pressure (Dustin Johnson’s 3-putt from 12 feet on the U.S. Open final hole), or earning a trophy in a playoff at The John Deere Classic, Spieth has shown that he has game, concentration, and focus. His spectacular putting touch and shotmaking ability are wonderful to watch, but his unflappable demeanor, and his approach to the game stand out more than anything else.

He does not attack a golf course like some of the long hitters in the game today. Far

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St. Andrews Can Present Special Obstacles

from being a middle to weak ball striker, Spieth dissects it, using accurate tee shots, a creative short game, great chip-shot bunker play, and that smooth, pure putting stroke. Much as he did Sunday when Gillis was in the clubhouse with a 20 under par and he was on the twelfth hole and trailing by four strokes, Spieth can dig deep and come up with outstanding shots to overcome any bogey moments. He birdied four of the final six holes, and there was little doubt who would be the first to blink in the playoff.

Just because McIlroy will be out of action this weekend does not mean Spieth should be chalked up as the winner. Many talented golfers will be competing for the cherished Claret Jug. Fowler, Johnson, Phil Mickelson, who won The Open in 2013, and Tiger Woods, a three-time winner of the jug, should all be in the mix. Woods played fairly well at The Masters, but has tailed off in his production over recent years, missing the cut in two of his past three majors.

It is not unusual to see lesser known players atop the leaderboard during the first two days, but the odds on favorite to win should be Spieth because of the current status of

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Magical Sunday Afternoons Becoming Commonplace

his golf game, and his calm approach. When questioned on what it would take to be successful at St. Andrews, Spieth answered that all the preparation should be geared to “experience the magic on Sunday afternoon”. Confident? You bet.

Winning his third major of the year, the first to do it since Woods in 2002, should cement Spieth’s reputation as the next great player in the game. I personally will be pulling for him, and anxious to hear the comments of ESPN black commentators Michael Wilbon and Jason Whitlock about the accomplishment. After Spieth’s U.S. Open victory, they both said his winning two majors was special, but not as special as when Tiger did it early in his career. They both qualified their statements by saying that they did not want to be misunderstood, the accomplishment was outstanding, but it was not a game changer like Tiger’s accomplishment.  While it was not verbally said, viewers were led to understand that their stance was based on Tiger being black, and that there were few black golfers, so Tiger’s two-major victories were more special.

Funny how that works, the infamous card can be played for a number of reasons, and in so many ways. Objectivity out the window, a well-hidden agenda front and center. I sincerely hope Spieth can sign, and turn in a winning card Sunday, to put some of those media shenanigans to rest.

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