October 2 2013
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
DUBLIN, Ohio -- Jordan Spieth is playing in his first Presidents Cup but the 20-year-old has wasted little time making his presence known at Muirfield Village.
Spieth upstaged the other high-powered members of his practice group -- world No. 1 Tiger Woods, Matt Kuchar and Steve Stricker -- when he made an ace at the 12th hole on Wednesday.
The recently named PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year used a 7-iron at the 173-yard hole. He watched intently as the ball tracked toward the flagstick, then turned to the crowd and raised his arms into the air when the ball found the hole.
"(It) started at the flag and never really left it, in mid-air," Spieth said. "I had flown the green the couple days before and I thought it was perfect. Took a little off it, and thought it might be the right club, took a little while to trickle and thought it was going to be about a foot short.
"And all of a sudden it dropped. Everybody's hands went up, so our arms went up, and it was really cool; a cool environment that we had that many people around."
High-fives and fist bumps followed with Stricker, Woods and Kuchar, as well as their caddies. The ace was the second of the year for Spieth, who also made one on Saturday at the Puerto Rico Open presented by seepuertorico.com where he tied for second and started an amazing run that culminated in his first Presidents Cup appearance.
"The next hole we were talking about how many each other had and I realized it was a lot humbling because they all have a lot more than I do," Spieth, who actually has three total, said.
Even with the ace, though, Spieth and Stricker didn't win the 12-hole match they played with Woods and Kuchar. They had started on No. 7 and played alternate shot for the first six holes, ending with Spieth's "walk-off" ace of sorts.
"(They) had two eagles before that in alternate shot," Spieth said with a smile. "They eagled the first hole, No. 7 and 11, also."
Stricker and Spieth also had played -- and lost -- a match on Tuesday against Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley. The experience, though, was invaluable for the veteran and the rookie phenom.
"We were down early, Phil came out strong early but we clawed our way back and made it a match to the last hole," Stricker said. "Stuff like that is good for Jordan and I, too, to see how to interact together and go through the motions of trying to make a big putt, competing against another team like Keegan and Phil that have done so well, so I think that was good for us the last few times."
Spieth, for his part, is soaking everything up.
"We had a couple great matches against a couple of the best players in the world and what better prep for tomorrow than to have those matches," he said. "So yeah, (Woods and Kuchar) ended up beating us 1 up. They were 4 up and we bought back and they closed it out."
Luckily for Spieth, though, he didn't have to carry out the hole-in-one tradition of buying a round for everyone in the bar. But he had a plan -- just in case.
"Everything here for all the players and wives are open bar, so that makes it easy," Spieth said. "Technically it's alternate shot, so Steve made a hole-in-one so we can split it."