Family Guy: Spieth maintains priorities

By Randall MellApril 13, 2015, 2:19 am

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Shawn Spieth stood in the shadow of the clubhouse at Augusta National early Sunday evening with his  eyes glistening and his heart swelling.

His son was about to be whisked away to Butler Cabin to slip on the green jacket as Masters champion.

Jordan Spieth won with an 18-under 270 total only equaled by Tiger Woods in the 79-year history of the Masters.

Standing there, surrounded by reporters, Shawn’s mind raced back to all the disappointment his son left the Masters with a year ago. The depth of Jordan’s satisfaction winning this Masters goes back to last year’s failure. As a parent, Shawn saw the ache in his son driving away from Magnolia Lane a year ago. Shawn felt it. The entire family felt it leaving the property with Jordan. That’s what made this day, this moment all the more glorious.

Whatever heartache Jordan felt losing a two-shot lead to Bubba Watson last year, he didn’t dwell on it. That’s what Shawn remembered most leaving Augusta National. He remembers the resolve.

“After last year, Jordan was convinced he would win this year,” Shawn said. “Right after we walked off that green and went back to try to find a way to have some dinner, and move on, right then, he felt he’d win this year.”

If there’s a secret to Jordan Spieth’s success, that might be it, that resolve his father pointed to in the aftermath of last year’s failure.

At 21, Spieth has already fended off some hard, competitive blows as a professional golfer, setbacks that could have wounded a young psyche, that could have created the kind of dispiriting doubt that derails youthful ambition. There was the failure to get through second stage of PGA Tour School after turning pro. That’s a potentially game-changing setback when you’re supposed to be a can’t-miss star. There were failures to close on giant stages at the Masters last year and again at The Players Championship. That intense scrutiny creates a chorus of doubts about not having the fiber to close.

There was resolve shown getting through all those setbacks.

Sunday morning, with the long wait for Jordan’s afternoon tee time, Shawn wanted to talk about the challenge ahead. He wanted to talk about what the day might require. So even though the family made a point not to talk about golf in their time together in the housing they shared this week, they did talk golf.

“I wanted to have a quick conversation,” Shawn said. “It’s such a long wait. I thought it might help a little bit, just maybe to calm me, if not him, to have a quick conversation, about what I thought was important.”

Shawn reminded Jordan to expect to face some adversity in the final round.

“He knew it, from other big moments,” Shawn said. “Last year, he wasn’t quite ready for it. We just talked a couple minutes about this, and the fact that this is the greatest game, and it’s the Masters, but it is still just a game, as opposed to something more critical in our world. I don’t know if it helped.”

If not the words, surely the spirit of the message helped.

In the aftermath of Sunday’s victory, you could see how important family and friends are in Spieth’s life.

He hugged Shawn, and he hugged his mother, Chris. He hugged his younger brother, Steven, who plays basketball at Brown University. He hugged his grandfather, his girlfriend, three of his closest friends. The hugs seemed to go on forever.

Spieth’s appeal goes beyond his skills.

Ben Crenshaw, the two-time Masters winner, said Spieth reminds him of Wyatt Earp.

“He wants to gun you down,” Crenshaw said.

But there’s another dominating element to Spieth. He also reminds you of Bobby Jones. There’s this gentlemanly spirit tempering Spieth’s competitive nature.

Spieth wants to win. He wants to win, badly. You see it and hear it in this commanding stage presence he’s developing, in his confident stride, in the certainty of his gestures, even in the way he talks to his golf ball. The appeal is how he is learning to temper this edge. There’s a Texas gentleman’s firm hand on all this.

C.S. Lewis, the author and professor of Oxford University fame, once described chivalry as the ability to be tough to the nth degree and gentle to the nth degree. That’s Spieth’s appeal. He’s chivalrous.

This really comes through in Spieth’s relationship with the one family member who wasn’t there Sunday. Ellie, Spieth’s 13-year-old sister, was born with a neurological disorder. She is a special needs child. He adores her, and she adores him.

“She puts everything in perspective for him in life,” Shawn said. “As great as this is today, it’s still golf. There’s nothing that’s going to change the world, other than the way players handle themselves out here.”

Jordan talked about wanting to call Ellie after his victory. She’s back in Dallas with other family. Jordan usually Facetimes with her when he’s away, so she can see him. She always asks him if he won when he calls.

“When I speak to her, she's going to probably tell me to just bring something home, bring a present home to her,” Jordan said. “I'm sure she was watching and was excited when she saw how happy I was with my family there at the end. Probably got a little jealous at that point. But she's just going to be happy that I won.  You know, after each round last week, she was out there at the Shell Houston Open, and after each round, she said, `Jordan, did you win?  Did you win?’ And I said, `Not yet, not yet ... no.’  I can tell her I won now (laughter).”

Spieth won with a resolve he learned at home.

“I just learn from example," he said, "and I have some great examples before me.” 

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DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials phoned Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial. 

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.