Spieth Shining on Golf’s Big Stage

Spieth became the youngest PGA TOUR winner since 1931 by winning the John Deere Classic. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Spieth became the youngest PGA TOUR winner since 1931 by winning the John Deere Classic. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

By Jay Plotkin

Call him the Kevin Durant of Texas men’s golf.

PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Jordan Spieth arrived on the 40 Acres in 2011 to high expectations, just as his basketball counterpart did in 2006.

Spieth had won three consecutive individual state golf championships at Dallas Jesuit, more than held his own as a high schooler playing in the PGA Tour’s HP Byron Nelson Championship, winning two U.S. Junior Amateur titles and playing on the U.S. Walker Cup and Junior Ryder Cup teams.

At Texas, Durant won multiple national player of the year awards, led the Longhorns in scoring and rebounding and helped the team to a runner-up finish in the Big XII tournament and the second round of the NCAA tournament. He moved on to the NBA after that freshman season, where we was the second pick in the 2007 draft and has become one of the top players in the world.

As great as Durant was in his sport, Spieth may have one-upped him. All Spieth did as a freshman was lead the team to its first NCAA Championship since the days of Crenshaw and Kite, earning first-team All-America honors and Big XII Player and Freshman of the Year awards along the way.

Like Durant, Spieth elected to turn pro following his freshman season, and like Durant, he’s hit the ground running on the PGA Tour. After qualifying for the web.com tour in the 2012 Q School, Spieth made the most of some early sponsor exemptions, earned his first win at the John Deere Classic and spent so much time near the top 10 that he won Rookie of the Year honors and a spot on the President’s Cup team alongside legends Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

His first few President’s Cup days have been whirlwind. He and partner Steve Stricker played a practice match against Woods and Matt Kuchar, during which Spieth recorded an ace, recounts The Golf Channel’s Doug Ferguson.

He followed that up with a welcome-to-the-competition opening day four-ball win with Stricker over Ernie Els and Brenden de Jonge, as Golfweek’s Jeff Babineau reports.

If he showed nerves early, Spieth settled in late and had enough sense to enjoy the setting, and the stage, writes the Daily Telegraph’s James Corrigan.

As Friday’s competition in the U.S. vs. the Internationals (less Eurpoe) experienced a weather suspension, Spieth and Stricker were back at it, leading Branden Grace and Richard Sterne 1-up through seven holes. The rookie shows no signs of backing down, as he told Reuters’ Simon Evans on the competition’s eve.