Spieth showing character to stick around on Tour

By Jason SobelMarch 13, 2013, 7:28 pm

PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Jordan Spieth has character. It should be noted that this is inherently different from many up-and-coming young golfers who are characters or have a favorite cartoon character or have at some point served as a character witness.

Character is defined as “a complex of mental and ethical traits marking a person,” but Spieth’s character can be defined by four recent actions, results of an intangible quality that doesn’t show up on any scorecard.

Character Defining Moment No. 1: As a two-time winner of the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship – joining Tiger Woods as the only multiple champions in tournament history – Spieth considered turning pro last summer before making the decision to return to the University of Texas.

That’s not what defined his character, though. No, that came a few months later, toward the end of the first semester of his sophomore year.

Knowing that he was about to join the play-for-pay ranks on Dec. 14, Spieth didn’t stop attending classes or blow off his final exams. In fact, he did just the opposite. He wrote lengthy papers as final exams for classes in English Literature and Rhetoric. His last act before turning pro was to hand in an eight-pager in the latter course, which received a grade of 95.

“I actually did a really good job on that paper” he said. “I took it deep – literally and figuratively.”

Plenty of young golfers are considered to have character, but there aren’t many who would continue working so hard in their classes when a clear path was already paved ahead of them. They may argue otherwise, but that would be considered – as Spieth knows all too well – rhetoric.

Tampa Bay Championship: Articles, videos and photos

Character Defining Moment No. 2: After opening his season – which includes no status on any tour – with a missed cut at Torrey Pines and a T-22 at Pebble Beach, Spieth started playing in events on the developmental Web.com Tour.

He finished T-7 at the Panama Claro Championship and T-4 at the Colombia Championship, leaving him just $4,649 shy of special temporary membership for the remainder of the season. Many people pushed him toward competing in the next week’s tournament in Chile, where a top-30 result would secure that status for the year.

Spieth had other plans. He had already committed to the PGA Tour’s Puerto Rico Open after tournament chairman Sidney Wolf offered a sponsor’s exemption. For someone whose message is “gratitude” – toward those who watch him play, toward those who have helped him and certainly toward those who have offered exemptions – he didn’t feel right about forgoing the tournament in favor of reaching a more personal goal.

And so in another character defining moment, he traveled to Puerto Rico last week.

The share of second place? That was less about character and more about him being really good at golf.

Character Defining Moment No. 3: At one point during the final round, the 19-year-old Spieth found himself atop the leaderboard in an attempt to become the second-youngest PGA Tour winner ever.

He then posted six pars and a bogey during a seven-hole stretch before closing with a birdie to vault into a share of second place. The finish left him just $101,295 shy of special temporary membership on the PGA Tour, making him dangerously close to earning that status on both sanctioned tours.

“Being able to look at the leaderboard and be on the top with a couple other guys, it was a new experience and I enjoyed it and felt like I played really well, felt like I controlled my emotions and hit good shots,” Spieth explained. “I would have obviously taken second going in and I'm going to take a lot of confidence going forward. I still have a lot of work to do to have a permanent place to play.”

All of which leads to this particular character definer.

After finishing in second place, after nearly becoming the second-youngest champion ever, after almost being able to forget about where and when to play and trying to earn status, Spieth came away from the tournament angry.

Rather than content with his performance, he was disappointed in himself that it wasn’t even better.

Character Defining Moment No. 4: Technically, this one hasn’t happened yet, but just the fact that he’s planning on it speaks volumes about Spieth’s mindset.

One of the reasons he worked so hard on those end-of-semester final exam papers and studied enough to receive grade point averages of 3.75, 3.5 and 3.5 in his three semesters at Texas is that even though a full-time membership on the world’s most elite professional golf tour is now well within his sights, he still plans to graduate college in pursuit of a communications degree.

“Way down the road, I’d like to get into broadcasting someday,” he said. “That was my thought process going in and I’m definitely planning on finishing.”

Before that day comes, Spieth will first compete in this week’s Tampa Bay Championship, followed by PGA Tour appearances at the Shell Houston Open, Valero Texas Open and Byron Nelson Championship.

There are plenty of characters, players who like cartoon characters and character witnesses at the game’s highest level, but there’s always room for more guys with character. Expect Jordan Spieth to fill that niche sooner rather than later. His game is good enough to play here and his character is strong enough to keep him around.

Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.


Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the Web.com, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

"Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via Golf.com). “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.

"The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

"Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.

Class of 2011: The groups before The Group

By Mercer BaggsNovember 20, 2017, 9:00 pm

We’ve been grouping things since the beginning, as in The Beginning, when God said this is heaven and this is earth, and you’re fish and you’re fowl.

God probably wasn’t concerned with marketing strategies at the time and how #beastsoftheearth would look with a hashtag, but humans have evolved into such thinking (or not evolved, depending on your thinking).

We now have all manner of items lumped into the cute, the catchy and the kitschy. Anything that will capture our attention before the next thing quickly wrests said attention away.

Modern focus, in a group sense in the golf world, is on the Class of 2011. This isn’t an arbitrary assembly of players based on world ranking or current form. It’s not a Big Pick A Number.

There’s an actual tie that binds as it takes a specific distinction to be part of the club. It’s a group of 20-somethings who graduated from high school in the aforementioned year, many who have a PGA Tour card, a handful of who have PGA Tour wins, and a couple of who have major titles.

It’s a deep and talented collective, one for which our knowledge should continue to expand as resumes grow.

Do any “classes” in golf history compare? Well, it’s not like we’ve long been lumping successful players together based on when they completed their primary education. But there are other notable groups of players, based primarily on birthdate, relative competition and accomplishment.

Here’s a few on both the men’s and women’s side:

BORN IN 1912

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Feb. 4, 1912 Byron Nelson 52 5
May 27, 1912 Sam Snead 82 7
Aug. 13, 1912 Ben Hogan 64 9

Born six months within one another. Only a threesome, but a Hall of Fame trio that combined for 198 PGA Tour wins and 21 majors.

BORN IN 1949

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Sept. 4, 1949 Tom Watson 39 8
Dec. 5, 1949 Lanny Wadkins 21 1
Dec. 9, 1949 Tom Kite 19 1

Only 96 days separate these three Hall of Fame players. Extend the reach into March of 1950 and you'll get two-time U.S. Open winner Andy North.

BORN IN 1955

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Jan. 30, 1955 Curtis Strange 17 2
Jan. 30, 1955 Payne Stewart 11 3
Feb. 10, 1955 Greg Norman 20 2

Another trio of Hall of Fame players. Strange and Stewart were born on the same day with Norman 11 days later. Fellow PGA Tour winners born in 1955: Scott Simpson, Scott Hoch and Loren Roberts.


Birthdate Player LPGA wins Major wins
Feb. 22, 1956 Amy Alcott 29 5
Oct. 14, 1956 Beth Daniel 33 1
Oct. 27, 1956 Patty Sheehan 35 6
Jan. 6, 1957 Nancy Lopez 48 3

A little arbitrary here, but go with it. Four Hall of Famers on the women's side, all born within one year of each other. That's an average (!) career of 36 tour wins and nearly four majors.


Birthdate Player Euro (PGA Tour) wins Major wins
April 9, 1957 Seve Ballesteros 50 (9) 5
July 18, 1957 Nick Faldo 30 (9) 6
Aug. 27, 1957 Bernhard Langer 42 (3) 2
Feb. 9, 1958 Sandy Lyle 18 (6) 2
March 2, 1958 Ian Woosnam 29 (2) 1

The best 'class' of players Europe has to offer. Five born within a year of one another. Five Hall of Fame members. Five who transformed and globalized European golf.


Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Sept. 12, 1969 Angel Cabrera 3 2
Oct. 17, 1969 Ernie Els 19 4
May 12, 1970 Jim Furyk 17 1
May 12, 1970 Mike Weir 8 1
June 16, 1970 Phil Mickelson 42 5

Not a tight-knit group, but a little more global bonding in accordance to the PGA Tour's increased international reach. Add in worldwide wins – in excess of 200 combined – and this group is even more impressive.

BORN IN 1980

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Jan. 9, 1980 Sergio Garcia 10 1
July 16, 1980 Adam Scott 13 1
July 30, 1980 Justin Rose 8 1

Could be three future Hall of Fame members here.

Editor's note: Golf Channel's editorial research unit contributed.