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May 27 2011

8:54 PM

Spieth to make cut; now can he win?

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Jordan Spieth has shot 69-68 in the first two rounds at TPC Four Seasons Resort.

By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM

IRVING, Texas -- Normally when a teenage amateur makes the cut at a PGA TOUR event, it's big news. But for Jordan Spieth, it's old news this week.

For the second consecutive year, Spieth will play on the weekend at the HP Byron Nelson Championship. When he did it last year at age 16 years, 9 months, 24 days, he became the sixth-youngest player to make the cut at a TOUR event.

This year, the only news he wants to make must wait until Sunday. If he can somehow produce a win, he would become the youngest winner in at least 111 years and possibly the youngest winner since Tom Morris Jr. won the 1868 British Open at age 17 years, 5 months, 8 days.

Spieth, now five months older than Morris was back then, isn't ruling out the possibility. After shooting his second consecutive sub-par round -- a 2-under 68 to go with Thursday's 69 -- Spieth will go into the weekend at 3 under, in a tie for eighth with a large group, just five strokes behind co-leaders Ryan Palmer and Sergio Garcia.

"I want to win," Spieth said. "I don't care what everyone else says. ... I'm confident, staying loose and seeing my friends in the crowd. Feeding off the crowd helps me."

IF SPIETH SHOULD WIN
These are the tournaments Jordan Spieth would get invites to should he win this week:
2011
The Memorial Tournament
AT&T National
PGA Championship
2012
Hyundai Tournament of Champions
Bob Hope Classic
Arnold Palmer Invitational
Masters
The Heritage
THE PLAYERS Championship
Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial

Spieth is scheduled to play for the University of Texas in the fall. But should he win, he would have 60 days after the time he turns 18 to accept TOUR membership. And as a tournament winner, he would retain his TOUR card through at least 2013.

Also, a win would get him invites to such tournaments as THE PLAYERS Championship, the Masters, the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and the various invitationals.

Even if he retained his amateur status, he could play up to 12 TOUR events as a non-member.

"To be on this stage as a senior in high school, at 17, it’s impressive,” Palmer said. “I'm starting to wonder if he's thinking about four years of college or just one.”

Of course, as a Texas A&M graduate, Palmer might rather see Spieth on TOUR than playing for rival Texas.

For Spieth, though, the focus is on the next two days. While he can't match the experience of his fellow competitors, he does think he has one big advantage.

"It's kind of overlooked, but these guys are playing week in, week out, so this another event (for them)," said Spieth, who at one point late Friday morning was tied for third. "For me, I spent the whole entire last month preparing for this, getting out here and preparing my game for this golf course.

"That's a huge advantage to my side."

Palmer said the kid has another advantage.

“All he’s having to do is have fun,” he said. “He has nothing to lose. He needs to go out there and let it go.”

One other difference between Spieth and the rest of the field – nobody else has his high school graduation ceremony to attend.

Although Spieth wasn't sure what his tee time will be for Saturday's third round, he will likely have to miss at least a portion of his graduation ceremony at Jesuit College Preparatory School, which starts Saturday at 4 p.m. local time (5 p.m. ET).

"I'm definitely going to shoot over there as fast as possible," he said.

Considering that his huge gallery will include many of his friends from high school, maybe he'll just hitch a ride with one of them.

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