For one of the PGA Tour‘s newest stars, this week’s tournament, the Valspar Championship, will always hold a special place in his heart.
Sure, Jordan Spieth‘s career really took off when he won the John Deere Classic in a playoff over Zach Johnson, and he went on to Rookie of the Year honors and a spot on the President’s Cup team. But while the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook is one of the most intimidating finishing stretches in golf, it’s where Spieth’s meteoric rise truly began.
“The last three holes on Sunday here were three of the biggest holes I played all last year,” Spieth told the Associated Press on the eve of the tournament. “I mean, none of the rest of it possibly would have happened if wasn’t able to hole a flop shot on 17 and got up-and-down out of the front bunker on 18.”
That’s right – the wins, the overnight celebrity, and everything that goes along with it came down to three holes. The focus and intensity he demonstrated in clawing his way to a seventh-place tie really showed us all we needed to see to know that he could be something special.
This year, the biggest struggle Spieth faces is living up to the hype. It’s proving to not always be easy – Speith’s frustration boiled over in his match against Ernie Els at the WGC-Accenture Match Play a few weeks ago. But he’s already been in contention several times in 2014, and appears ready to take another step as he leads up to his first Masters appearance.
Last year, Spieth had to play the best golf of his life just to earn Special Temporary Status on the Tour. With no such worries in his way this week, he has to be considered a strong favorite at the Valspar.