KORN FERRY TOUR FINALS
Gribble's No. 1 advantage
The former Texas golfer grew up with top-ranked Jordan Spieth and remains close to him
September 29, 2015
By Kevin Prise , PGATOUR.COM
- Cody Gribble is No. 38 on The Finals money list. (Chris Condon/PGA TOUR)
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Cody Gribble and Jordan Spieth go back. Way back. The two played junior golf together growing up around Dallas.
Gribble remembers the days when he served as a mentor to Spieth. Nine years ago, Spieth caddied for Gribble in a U.S. Amateur qualifier (Gribble was 16 and Spieth was 13).
The roles are reversed now, though. Gribble looks up to Spieth, also his college teammate for three semesters at the University of Texas. But with Spieth currently holding two major titles and the FedExCup crown, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
“It’s kind of funny how the roles have changed over the years,” said Gribble, who enters this week’s Web.com Tour Championship at No. 38 on the Finals money list. “Starting in college, and after college … you know, I’m looking up to him. Probably everybody else is, too.”
Gribble needs a big week at TPC Sawgrass (Dye’s Valley Course) to break inside the top 25 on The Finals money list and earn PGA TOUR status for next season. He’s currently more than $12,000 outside the top 25, after finishing T52-T21-T52 in the first three Finals events.
With players trying to take advantage of any edge they can find this week, Gribble has one unique advantage: Spieth.
Gribble and Spieth often play friendly money games when they’re home in Texas – in a friendly group that includes PGA TOUR-bound Kelly Kraft, who finished inside the top 25 on the Web.com Tour Regular Season money list.
Whether back in their junior days, during college, or in a casual game, Gribble finds that he can always learn something from Spieth.
“I love to pick his brain about whatever,” Gribble said. “From golf to even doing something financially … whatever it is.”
Gribble played two years at Texas before Spieth arrived. When Spieth set foot on campus, though, Gribble’s game was not improving as rapidly as he might have liked.
Looking back, Gribble has no regrets, but he thinks he knows why his improvement slowed down after a sparkling junior career: He was taking full advantage of the total college experience – partying, networking and so on.
“I’m not sure that my passion (for golf) was there,” said Gribble, reflecting on the middle part of his college career. “I cared more about socializing. I had a good time in college, let me tell you.
“I definitely could’ve worked harder. One hundred percent, I could’ve worked harder. And Spieth definitely outworked me.”
When asked about Gribble and his college years, Spieth concurs that Gribble’s golf suffered at the expense of other activities.
But when Gribble decided during his senior year that he wanted to take advantage of his immense natural talent and pursue professional golf, things started to turn.
“The second and third year (at Texas), it seemed that he wasn’t working as hard (at golf) as he was going into college,” Spieth said. “That last year of college, he started to pick it back up, and since then he’s really worked his butt off because he’s realized he has to.
“He’s always had incredible talent. He had the work ethic back again because he had to do it if he was going to play professional golf.”
Gribble recalls that Spieth had “only one goal” while he was at Texas: progressing to the PGA TOUR.
Gribble spent his time having fun and building a business network, in addition to working on his game. He graduated with a degree in corporate communications, and actually wanted to stay in school for another year upon earning his degree in spring 2013.
“My father wouldn’t let me,” Gribble said.
Gribble also thought long and hard about working in the “real world” for a year after college – “business, real estate or financial stuff.”
After consulting with mentors such as Harrison Frazar – who worked in commercial real estate after graduating from Texas – Gribble decided that his best interests were in pursing golf immediately.
“I would call (Frazar) for advice my last couple of years, to see what he would do,” Gribble said. “He went and worked, and that’s what I wanted to do. But in this day and time, you get too far behind.
“If I was going to go out and work for a year, I don’t think there would be any way of coming back fast enough, to play golf at this type of level now.”
Gribble chose to focus on golf, and that focus has paid off. He played PGA TOUR Latinoamerica in 2014, then advanced through Web.com Tour Q-School last fall. He finished No. 27 on the Web.com Tour Regular Season money list, narrowly missing his TOUR card that way.
Gribble has one final chance to secure TOUR status for next season: this week’s Web.com Tour Championship.
If he falls short, though, he’ll be OK. He might even find himself in an office this offseason.
“I still wouldn’t mind working this fall,” Gribble said. “If I don’t get my card, I guarantee you I’m going to be hunting and fishing and working.
“I need some time off after these weeks. Whatever happens, it’s a win-win. I would love to go straight to the TOUR, but it is what it is.”
Gribble nearly qualified for the U.S. Amateur with Spieth on his bag. He lost in a playoff to Kraft.
Spieth is on TOUR now, and Kraft will join him after this week. If you are who you surround yourself with, expect Gribble to follow suit – if not now, very soon.
-- PGATOUR.COM's Sean Martin contributed to this report