The 19-year-old’s ascent has indeed been meteoric.
In seven months, Spieth has gone from a player with zero status on any tour to having already secured his PGA TOUR card for next season.
Only a handful of players have managed to go from college straight to the PGA TOUR without stopping at q-school with Bud Cauley being the latest to do it.
“Starting the year out, I wouldn't have imagined,” said Spieth, who finished sixth at the AT&T National, where he slept on the 36-hole lead and at one point shared the lead early on Sunday, too. “I'm just happy to be out here. I'm just happy to be playing week in and week out. I'm lucky to have a place to play.”
All that’s missing is a win.
Though Spieth has already banked over $1 million in just 14 starts that came on sponsor exemptions or after a top-10 finish the week before, a victory would be huge for the former University of Texas star.
Because he has only special temporary membership, Spieth isn’t eligible for the FedExCup Playoffs. Only a win will change that. He'll get another shot at winning this week at The Greenbrier Classic. He made the field because of his sixth-place finish at AT&T National. The last two winners (Ted Potter Jr. and Scott Stallings) of The Greenbrier Classic were first-time winners.
Currently, Spieth has 569 non-member FedExCup points, which would put him 59th in the current standings and just ahead of Sergio Garcia. Add 500 points for a win and Spieth would have an excellent chance to make a run at the top 30 and the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, which would open up all sorts of doors for the rookie.
“I'm trying to get a win,” Spieth said after his fifth top 10 of the season on Sunday. “This is a great step forward for me.”
THE BACK NINE: 9 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
1. Bill Haas has now won at least once in each of the last four seasons, something only Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose and Dustin Johnson have done. Two of those players have majors and the third has contended in them before. Pretty good company to be in. Sunday’s victory at the AT&T National was just another step in the process for the 31-year-old Haas, who has worked a little harder this year than in the past and thinks he’s close to moving into that next tier of upper echelon players. “Just to even put my name next to those guys is a start of maybe being part of that club,” he said.
2. Congressional might have played a lot like a U.S. Open venue, from the thick rough to its fairway lines, but winning there still came down to making birdies, something Haas did better than anyone else with 25, including nine in the third round.
3. Winning the Irish Open could have the same effect on Paul Casey as winning the 2009 Australian Open had on Adam Scott. Casey, once No. 3 in the world, had plummeted outside the top 150 after a couple of difficult years that included numerous injuries. “Psychologically this is huge,” Casey said after his victory Sunday. “It feels like a first win again. I have struggled with the confidence and this is a huge relief knowing I am moving in the right direction. I have great golf in me for 10 years plus. This is a massive confidence boost.”
4. Rory McIlroy’s confidence, on the other hand, is heading the other direction at the moment after he missed the cut at the Irish Open. “At the moment, no aspects of my game are strong, and I’m just feeling a bit lost at the moment,” McIlroy said. “It feels good on the range and I can hit all the shots, but when I get out on the course, it really does not seem to be there.” Paul McGinley made an estute observation about the tumultuous McIlroy, telling the Irish Independent at the start of the week that McIlroy isn’t a “flat-line” player like Nick Faldo was. “I think it’s in his DNA to be an up-and-down player,” McGinley told the newspaper. “And I think that’s going to be part of his career for the rest of his life.”
5. Stat of the Week I: With Haas’ victory, players in their 30s have won 16 times this year, compared to eight by players in their 20s (and three by players in their 40s). For all the young talent on TOUR, golfers still hit their peak in their 30s.
6. Stat of the Week II: No player has recorded his first career victory in the six-year history of the AT&T National. A small sample size, yes, but it also says a lot about the venues that have hosted the event -- Congressional and Aronimink.
7. We’re approaching the four-year anniversary of Stewart Cink’s British Open win and only major victory in a career that had been in a downhill slide since. After years of working his way through swing and equipment changes, it looks like Cink has turned the corner. His tie for fifth Sunday at the AT&T National was his best finish in a stroke-play event on TOUR since that victory at Turnberry and was his third top 10 this season.
8. Tiger Woods hasn’t hit a golf ball since aggravating a strain in his left elbow at the U.S. Open, and it doesn’t sound like he will for maybe another week. That would give him about a week to prepare for Muirfield and the British Open. Will his elbow be 100 percent by then? “A hundred percent?” Woods said. “How about GED, good enough. … There's a difference between being hurt and being injured. It's a delicate balance. I know what it's like to play both, unfortunately.”
9. Following this week’s Greenbrier Classic, the top five players in the top 20 in the FedExCup standings not already exempt will earn a spot in the British Open. In order, those players are: Billy Horschel (fifth), Boo Weekley (ninth), Russell Henley (16th), Harris English (17th) and Charles Howell III (18th). Just outside the mark: Travelers Championship winner Ken Duke at 21st.