What were you doing when you were 20 years old?
Whatever it was, if you’re like me, and 99% of the rest of the planet’s population, the answer to that question wasn’t “experiencing a meteoric rise to the top of professional sports”. Of course, if you’re Jordan Spieth, that’s exactly what you’re doing right now.
Spieth will begin play at The Barclays this week at Liberty National as the 36th-ranked player in the world, and eighth in the FedEx Cup points race. A mere seven months ago, he made his 2013 debut at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, missing the cut with rounds of 72-73. He left San Diego after his first professional tournament ranked No. 810 in the world.
Of course, since then, all that has changed. In March, Spieth finished one shot out of a playoff at the Puerto Rico Open, a tournament in which he made just three bogeys all week. Three. It was the first of five top-10 finishes for Spieth, who needed a victory to earn full status for the year and become eligible for the playoffs, and played nearly every week to get it done.
When that moment came at the John Deere Classic, outlasting Zach Johnson and David Hearn, Spieth fulfilled a path that seemed almost destined for him since he left the University of Texas. He almost became the youngest two-time champion in PGA Tour history last week, losing a tough playoff at the Wyndham Championship. To say he’s coming into the playoffs with major momentum would be an understatement.
But will the pressure of the playoffs and the $10 million prize at the end be too much for Spieth? From now on, he’ll face only the best that the Tour has to offer every week, but that doesn’t seem to be fazing him. “I don’t really think of my age as my age. When you’re out here, everyone’s your peer,” Spieth told USA TODAY. “Starting the year, I had no idea that this would be a potential opportunity for me, and I’m happy to be in the top 10 starting the FedExCup playoffs,”
“I control my own destiny from here.”
That last statement is the key, and I’ll certainly be following Spieth closely as he begins this new part of his journey. He’ll be tested in these playoffs like he hasn’t been yet in his life, but I don’t think he’ll shrink from the moment. He hasn’t all year, so why start now?
What better way would there be to cap this rookie year than with the season championship?