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?”