A top-13 finish would likely grant Spieth status on the PGA TOUR. (Cohen/Getty Images)
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM Contributor
PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Jordan Spieth didn’t say it was the wisest decision. Just the one he felt most confident with.
From the trees left of the Copperhead’s 16th fairway, the 19-year-old pro somehow squeezed a low 6-iron through a 2-yard window while keeping it beneath another tree’s low-hanging branches.
Then came the bonus. The ball rose and hooked, giving it enough distance to carry onto the green and settle 11 feet away. Spieth finished off the improbable birdie, helping him to a 2-under 69 that lifted him within two shots of the Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank lead.
“It wasn’t a smart shot,” Spieth admitted. “Out of 10 times, I maybe hit the green once or twice.
“In that position, I felt confident with it. I felt like I could get it up there around the green. Hitting the green and making birdie was definitely a bonus, and that was one of the best shots I’ve ever hit in my life.”
Just another example of why Spieth likely won’t need long to stick on the PGA TOUR. A card may be as close as Sunday – a top-13 finish should be enough to earn the $101,295 he needs for special temporary membership.
Not that the two-time U.S. Junior Amateur champion is looking at the money.
“As long as I focus on the top of the leaderboard, it doesn’t bother me,” he said. “As long as I’m focused on making up ground from where I’m at right now – and not focused on settling for a certain number – then I won’t have a problem doing that.”
Spieth could accomplish it in just three PGA TOUR starts. He tied for 22nd at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, then was runner-up behind Scott Brown at last week’s Puerto Rico Open presented by seepuertorico.com. He also had two top-10 finishes on the Web.com Tour.
Not bad for a guy who had no status to begin 2013. Despite falling short in the second stage of PGA TOUR qualifying, he still opted to leave the University of Texas in December.
“I can’t imagine being out here at 19, and to do what he’s done,” said co-leader Justin Leonard, a fellow UT product. “And it isn’t like he’s just driven a couple hundred miles [to tournaments]. He’s been to three or four countries this year already.
“It’s pretty remarkable. It’s beyond the game and what happens on the golf course, but he’s handling himself very, very well.”
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM contributor
Jordan Spieth has his eye on a different prize now.
On the strength of two top-10 finishes on the Web.com Tour, the Texas teen stood less than $4,700 shy of earning special temporary membership on that circuit. From there, the unlimited exemptions would leave him in prime position to earn a PGA TOUR card next season.
Then Spieth ventured to last week’s Puerto Rico Open presented by seepuertorico.com and tied for second. Now it’s special status on the PGA TOUR that has his attention.
“It did change in a positive way,” said Spieth, who doesn’t turn 20 until July. “Now I’m looking to use my (PGA TOUR) exemptions sooner rather than later to try and earn that – and still have a full year left.”
Non-members are limited to seven exemptions in a season. Spieth has four left, needing to earn $101,295 to match No. 150 on last year’s money list. This week’s start is a a bonus for last week’s top-10 finish, so it doesn’t count against his allotment.
After taking next week off, he’ll play the Shell Houston Open and Valero Texas Open. He also learned Wednesday that the HP Byron Nelson Championship – where he made the cut as a 16-year-old – has given him another exemption, giving him three starts in his native state.
“I’m really excited about that,” he said.
Spieth, a two-time U.S. Junior champion, took a shot at a PGA TOUR card in last fall’s qualifying process – the last to award direct passage to the big circuit – but fell short of the final stage.
Now, it seems, he’s making up for lost time.
During his run in Dallas three years ago, Spieth raised some eyebrows when he said he went into it with the idea of winning. That mindset hasn’t changed.
“The way I’m playing my best golf,” he said, “is if I’m looking at the leaderboard, seeing who is leading and trying to surpass their name.”
What is different is that Spieth is playing his fourth consecutive week, something he never did at either the junior level, as an amateur or in the college ranks.
“I always liked to be well-prepared for tournaments,” he said. “And I wanted to spend time at home with my friends. Now it’s a job.
“But it’s the best job, isn’t it?”
By PGATOUR.COM staff
Ryo Ishikawa and Jordan Spieth each recorded their first hole-in-one on the PGA TOUR on Saturday, both at the Puerto Rico Open presented by seepuertorico.com.
Ishikawa used a 6-iron to ace the 236-yard eighth hole in the third round. He also carded an eagle 3 on the 15th hole at Trump International in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, and had a 6-under 66 in Round 3. He's currently at 12 under for the tournament and in the top 10. Ishikawa, who finished second here last season, has struggled so far in 2013, missing four of five cuts.
Spieth used a 4-iron to ace the 192-yard 11th hole. He's currently 3 under through 12 holes (12 under for the tournament). Spieth had a T22 at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and also owns a pair of top 10s on the Web.com Tour this season.
Patrick Cantlay earned his maiden victory on the Web.com Tour last week in Colombia. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)
By PGATOUR.COM staff
This week’s Puerto Rico Open presented by seepuertorico.com boasts a strong field containing a mix of proven winners and young, up-and-coming players. Below is a glance at six players, aged 23 and younger, to keep an eye on this week at Trunp International.
Luke Guthrie (23) -- The Illinois alum and 2012 Web.com Tour graduate has racked up five top-30 finishes in his first seven starts this season. Last week at The Honda Classic, he finished alone in third place for the best finish of his young TOUR career.
Peter Uihlein (23) -- A former Oklahoma State standout and U.S. Amateur champion, Uihlein has posted four consecutive top-25 finishes on the European Tour and currently ranks 50th on its Order of Merit. Uihlein made 3 of 5 cuts in 2011 as an amateur playing on the PGA TOUR but was 0-for-2 last year after turning pro.
Ryo Ishikawa (21) -- In 49 events on TOUR, the young Japanese star has made less than half (24) of his cuts. One of those, however, was last year in Puerto Rico where he notched a career-best runner-up finish. Currenlty 188th in the FedExCup standings.
Patrick Cantlay (20) -- The Web.com Tour’s money leader, Cantlay earned his first professional victory last week at the Colombia Championship. He burst onto the scene in 2011 when, as an amateur, he carded a second-round 60 for the 36-hole lead at the PGA TOUR’s Travelers Championship.
Jordan Spieth (19) -- After a very successful amateur career that includes an NCAA team title at Texas, a No. 1 amateur ranking and low amateur honors at the 2012 U.S. Open, Spieth turned pro in December. He tied for 22nd at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-am.
Si Woo Kim (17) -- Carded a closing 68 to earn his TOUR card with one shot to spare in the final round of q-school last year but cannot become a member until his 18th birthday in June. Missed the cut at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-am in his first-ever start on the PGA TOUR.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
Jordan Spieth is foregoing his final two years at the University of Texas to turn pro, he announced on Friday.
The 19-year-old was a first team All-American, helping the Longhorns to a national championship this year, and was named the Big 12 Conference Player of the Year. A year after receiving Freshman of the Year honors, he was one of three finalists for the 2012 Ben Hogan Award, presented annually to the nation's top amateur golfer.
Spieth is one of only two players — Tiger Woods is the other — to have won multiple U.S. Junior Amateur titles, which he did in 2009 and 2011. He also reached No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings earlier this year before ending the season at No. 8.
"The decision to turn pro was a difficult one, but I'm looking forward to the challenge of competing at the highest level and accomplishing the many goals I've set for myself on and off the course," Spieth said in a statement. "I owe everything I've achieved thus far to the support of my family, friends, teammates, and the University of Texas. While I'm proud of what my teammates and I have accomplished, I couldn't be more excited to fulfill my lifelong dream of becoming a professional golfer. "
In eight starts on the PGA TOUR as an amateur, Spieth made the cut five times, finishing in the top 25 twice. His best result was a tie for 16th at the 2010 HP Byron Nelson Championship, where he became the sixth-youngest player to make the cut in a TOUR event and was tied for seventh heading into the final round.
He was also the low amateur at this year’s U.S. Open at The Olympic Club, where he tied for 21st.
Spieth made one start on the Web.com Tour, tying for 44th at the Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational earlier this year.
As an amateur, he was a standout member of the 2011 U.S. Walker Cup team. Though the U.S. lost to Great Britain & Ireland, Spieth did his part, winning a pair of singles matches and halving a foursomes match.
As a freshman at Texas, he won three events and led the team in scoring average.
The Texas amateur discussed his first trip around TPC Deere Run.
The 2012 season marks the final direct q-school-to-PGA TOUR route, and famed Texas amateur Jordan Spieth is going to give it a go while he can.
Spieth, who is teeing it up this week in the John Deere Classic for the first time, made the cut at the U.S. Open and finished T21, which gave him an exemption into the second stage of q-school. Coincidentally, one of the second stage sites is TPC Craig Ranch near his home of Dallas.
Bear in mind, Spieth was still going to try q-school, even as he preps for his sophomore year the University of Texas. He simply won't have to do as much worrying.
"Now, I can just kind of rest and get more prep and not actually fail out of school this semester for being gone too much," Spieth said.
The John Deere Classic marks Spieth's fifth PGA TOUR start of the year, and the eighth of his career. His best remains the T16 he posted in his PGA TOUR debut at the 2010 HP Byron Nelson Championship, when he contended for the win until fading on Sunday. He admits he's just now learning how to control his nerves under the PGA TOUR microscope.
"[Two weeks ago at the AT&T National], I didn't have any nerves," Spieth said. "It was just like I was playing another round. I think the more and more you get into it, the more and more you realize it's just golf."
Note: All times Eastern. Interviews will be streamed on PGATOUR.COM.
Tuesday, July 10
Jordan Spieth -- 2 p.m.
Luke Guthrie -- 2:30 p.m.
Patrick Rodgers -- 3 p.m.
Wednesday, July 11
Steve Stricker -- After morning Pro-Am
Zach Johnson -- TBD
Kyle Stanley -- TBD
SAN FRANCISCO -- Beau Hossler’s bid for low amateur honors ended at the 18th hole on Sunday.
The precocious 17-year-old, who started the final round in a tie for eighth, needed to get to get up and down from the greenside bunker to beat Jordan Spieth, who is a rising sophomore at Texas.
Instead, Hossler, who will be a senior in high school next year, left the ball in the bunker and went on to make a double bogey. After posting a 69 on Saturday, Spieth shot 70 in the final round and finished at 7 over while Hossler was two strokes behind after Sunday’s 76.
The two are good friends and future college teammates. Hossler, who was wearing a visor that said Texas this week, plans to play for the Longhorns, who just won the NCAA golf title.
“He’s been a good friend of mine in junior golf the last couple years, and I think that I would like to say that I helped him, convince him to come to Texas, along with obviously our coaches,” Spieth said. “He gave me a lot of calls, along with a couple other guys on the team to find out some stuff about the university.
:So I've been close to Beau and we're aware of how good a player he is and what he's capable of doing, and he's just walking with a little extra cockiness in his step out here. He just looks really confident on the course and he's handling himself well off the course too.
“So it's just been an all‑around great effort by him and cool to see him sporting the Longhorn gear out there.”
Hossler couldn’t be too disappointed. Not only did he play extremely well, the crowd embraced him, giving him a standing ovation at the 18th hole.
“There's so much, so many positives for the week,” Hossler said. “I played well out of 70 holes, 72 holes I probably played well 60 of them. Made some crucial mistakes, missed some on the wrong side of the holes. But just like from last year, it's only a learning experience and I still have some time before I come out and start doing this for a living.”