Day, Spieth find major success through teamwork

By Mercer BaggsAugust 18, 2015, 6:30 pm

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – Ellie Spieth wrapped her arms around her brother’s leg and hugged with everything she had.

Jordan shared the squeeze, but when he went to move only his right leg went forward. Ellie stayed affixed to his left hip.

Jordan Spieth’s family was on hand Sunday at Whistling Straits, hoping to witness him make more history.

When he didn’t, at least when he didn’t accomplish his primary goal of becoming the third player in history to win three men’s professional majors in a season, the family was there to support him – and embrace him.


Twenty-nine times during his pre-championship news conference last Wednesday, Jordan Spieth used the personal pronoun “we” to refer to his actions.

“We do a good job of dissecting the most important information on courses.”

“We have been improving each year in the major championships.”

“I think we're going to be a lot more mature in that situation.”

And that doesn’t include the number of times he said “our” instead of “my.”

It’s not a psychological ploy, designed to lessen his burden. Spieth craves pressure, functions better the greater the amplitude.

It’s not an overt sign of respect, meant to project a faux All-American appeal.

At least, that’s not what this seems; though, the skeptic might contend otherwise.

This, whatever this is to Spieth and however other may perceive it, isn’t about anyone else.

It’s about winning major championships; an encompassing, need-to-know plan, designed to maximize his ability and allow him to contend and win golf’s biggest events on a regular basis.

Spieth’s “we” includes: Father Shawn; mother Christine; brother Steven; sister Ellie; manager Jay Danzi; swing coach Cameron McCormick; caddie Michael Greller; girlfriend Annie Verret; trainer Damon Goddard and chiropractor Troy Van Biezen. As well as several high-profile corporate sponsors.

All of these individuals and organizations converge for a common goal: make Jordan Spieth the best player he can be.

It might sound a little saccharine, but the results are undeniable.

At 22, Spieth is a two-time major champion, a five-time PGA Tour winner and the second-youngest world No. 1 in men’s history.

Again, at 22 years and three weeks.

He’s gone from a talented prospect with no professional status to one who earned a Tour card on merit to someone who has earned $18.6 million in three official seasons.

And when asked to assess his accomplishments, Spieth credits those around him for helping make him successful. He does, however, understand that he plays a significant role in all this.

It’s a selfish endeavor, really. Having all the people around you, focused on you and what you need/want to do. But it’s mutually beneficial. The components of “we” are well compensated, whether that is financially or emotionally. This, as it appears on a personal, if not completely on a corporate level, is done more out of respect and love than for financial gain. This is with whom Spieth has chosen to share himself.

This is his team.

“I figure I have, Michael's with me on the course, he's the one that's a part of each decision that we make as far as preparing for what we do. I have Cameron, I have my trainer Damon, sports chiro, manager, everybody gets stuff ready for us to play our best golf,” Spieth said.

“I'm the one hitting the shots and hitting the putts and getting the credit, I guess, but at the same time I believe that this is a – we're a brand, we're a company, we're competing together all for the same goal. And I try to align myself with the best at what they do in the world, because then that will free me up, I won't have to worry about any other parts of my life on and off the course and it seems to be working. We got a great team and no one's been scared of the next level and that's why we are where we are right now. So, I believe that on and off the course it's not just me.”


Players once had themselves as the entirety of their team, maybe an immediate family and a regular caddie. Then maybe the addition of a swing coach. Maybe an assistant. Then a manager. Possibly a trainer. A sports psychologist. Nanny. Personal decorator.

It takes a village, nowadays.

Some surround themselves with many others out of luxury. The goal isn’t to make themselves a better, more singularly focused player; it’s to make life comfortable and enjoyable.

Others, like Spieth, create a team for professional purposes, so that he can limit distractions, put on blinders and do that which he most wants to do: Win.

Spieth is certainly not alone in this endeavor; he has just been the most successful recently in applying the plan.

A further study of his PGA Championship transcripts reveal Spieth’s mentality. On Wednesday – carrying a treasure trove of positive memories into the media center and with the prospect of winning three majors in one season – Spieth took the all-inclusive pronoun route. Success was shared.

Sunday, upon defeat, responsibility was singular.

“I could have obviously made more putts today, I could have done a little bit more.”

“I missed it.”

“I knew I was going to be playing uphill from there.”

Again, interpret and judge how you will, but this does not appear to be media deception. If Spieth is a microphone con man, he’s better than Frank Abagnale, Jr.

Spieth’s public persona has been both praised and criticized; though, mostly praised. But the manner in which he speaks to the media, the way in which he answers questions – as famed golf writer Jamie Diaz was quoted recently, “It’s almost like you’re the teacher and he wants to get an A on the answer.” – is more than just how he was raised or perfunctory Texan talk.

It’s part of a mindset that has been conditioned to win. And, in his mind, winning takes a team effort. Losing, well, that’s on him. That’s him not properly applying his winning formula, one he chooses not to reveal.

It didn’t work this past week. Not so much because of what Spieth did not do, but because of what Jason Day did. Spieth understood this and it’s why – along with claiming world No. 1 for the first time in his career – that he was in a congenial mood Sunday evening.

“Obviously, this is as easy a loss as I've ever had,” Spieth said, “because I felt that I not only couldn't do much about it, as the round went on, I also accomplished one of my life-long goals and in the sport of golf.”


Day was brilliant, setting a major record in relation to winning score under par. But even he, in his post-victory news conference, credited his team for putting him in position to be successful.

Family, a few employees, limited outside influence. Zach Johnson, the reigning Open champion – and unlike Day and Spieth, pushing 40 – spoke last Tuesday to the positive influence of those around him. Verbal mentions of “we” and “team.”

That’s the golf world in which we live. This is a team game now. And great players surrounded by good people are very successful.

“My team,” Day said, “we’re very close. And I don’t have a bunch of ‘yes’ men around. I’ve got people that are very honest and care about not only my golf game, but who I am as a person.

“I’m going to think about (winning the PGA) for the rest of my life and I know … that we did it together.”

Before his victory, came the tears. Day fought to suppress his burgeoning emotions, at least until after he putted out to win his first major title.

When that happened: Niagara Falls.

“When I saw that putt go up to half a foot, I just couldn’t stop crying,” Day said. “It’s just a lot of hard work that I’ve been putting into this game to dedicate myself to have a shot at glory, have a shot at greatness. And that’s what we all work towards.”

Just as Spieth was joined by members of his team upon defeat, so, too, was Day in triumph. His wife Ellie; son Dash; caddie/coach/father figure Colin Swatton; agent Bud Martin and physiotherapist Cornel Driessen, were there.

As he walked to the scoring trailer, Day carried his son in his arms, holding him tightly while walking through the security-made path, aligned by patrons and press.

And just like Ellie Spieth a few moments before, Dash Day didn’t want to let go. He clung to his hero with all that he had.

But Daddy had to go sign his card. He has just won a big one for the team.

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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard

On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry