March 27 2013
Dallas native Jordan Spieth is making an impression quickly on the PGA TOUR. (Cohen/Getty Images)
By Melanie Hauser, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
HUMBLE, Texas – There’s something about Jordan Spieth.
Maybe it’s his game. Maybe it’s the smile. Maybe it’s the way he manages to wrap a room of reporters around his little finger with a combination of honesty and excitement.
Maybe it’s a combination of all the above.
You don’t have to spend more than a few minutes with the Dallas native to know he’s going places. At 19, he’s one of those kids who knows what he wants and is tantalizingly close to making it happen.
Think, oh, Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson. Or, when it comes to golf, Ben Crenshaw or Justin Leonard back in the day.
We say that because Spieth was born in 1993. And here he is, just a few months removed from his three semesters at the University of Texas and he’s already played well enough – he’s made more than $500,000 – to join the PGA TOUR on a Special Temporary Membership. And at his rate, the 'temporary' might be fleeting.
“It’s clear as a bell to me,’’ said Crenshaw, who left Texas for the TOUR after six semesters back in 1973. “He gives you a look I’ve never seen before. It’s like a mean look, but not really mean. It’s a look of I-know-where-I’m-going.
“It’s not cocky. It’s confident. It’s wonderful to watch what he’s doing.’’
People said the same thing about Crenshaw, who won his official debut as a PGA TOUR member at the 1973 San Antonio Texas Open. And like Crenshaw, Spieth had gotten a lot of opportunities to play professional events, including the U.S. Open, as an amateur.
In January, Spieth was going to test the waters on the Web.com Tour and eventually – he hoped – get enough starts through sponsor exemptions on the PGA TOUR to earn his 2014 card. After a T7 at the Tampa Bay Championship and a runner-up finish at the Puerto Rico Open, he’s well on his way to that card, just maybe a 2013 card.
“I still haven't earned my card for next year, that's still first and foremost on my mind,’’ said Spieth, whose earnings are already more than the 150th spot on the 2012 money list. "With the change in the schedule, the shortening of the schedule, there's no set amount of money that I know I'm going to have to make.
“So, you know, I have other goals that have now come up for this year, but that's still first and foremost, and I'm not going to relax. Even if I know that I accomplished that, there's still a long way to go to -- you still want move up in the world ranking, get in all the top events.’’
The next step comes at this week’s Shell Houston Open and on one of the few TOUR courses he has played before. He was 14 back then and playing in the HP Junior Invitational and not ready for the Redstone layout.
“It was too much of a golf course for me back then,’’ said Spieth, who tied for 16th at the HP Byron Nelson Championship as a 16-year-old amateur. “I was 14, I couldn't reach three or four of the par 4s in two. But it was an unbelievable track. I've only heard about the course during this tournament and how it's in the best shape, you know, of any course I play all year, you know, except possibly Augusta.’’
Which brings us to another little possibility. If – yes if – Spieth would win this week, he could find himself playing at Augusta National in two weeks. He’s trying not to go there in conversation, but he did get a look at the course last year when the Texas team watched Monday’s practice rounds.
“It was pretty much like walking into a video game,’’ he said. “It's pretty much how it feels like here, too.‘’
Like so many other young athletes, he’s showing there are no limits when you’ve got talent.
“It’s interesting,’’ he said. “Even watching NCAA basketball, these guys are unbelievable sophomores are my age, my grade, so, seeing -- yeah. It's cool to see the younger generation. I'm always rooting for everyone I can there.
“In golf, I mean, you can definitely single out all the young great golfers to one guy, in the game of golf, in the way that it's grown, but as far as -- I'm a sports fanatic, so I follow all sports. I'm big fans of the guys, the Bryce Harpers, my age, and, you know, guys in the NFL, rookie quarterbacks, Russell Wilson is probably my size. I'm not sure if I stood next to him he would eat me, but still ..."
He drew a laugh from the room.
Like Crenshaw said. Not cocky, just confident. And taking dead aim.