Newsmaker of the Year No. 9: Jordan Spieth

By Ryan LavnerDecember 12, 2013, 12:05 pm

Of course there were fleeting moments of anxiety.

Jordan Spieth had flamed out of Q-School’s second stage, and – for a few weeks, at least – he was just another newly minted pro with no status on any major tour, a 19-year-old trying to figure out a schedule, write notes to tournament directors, settle on a management team and explore his sponsorship options … all of this mere days after completing his finals in English and Rhetoric at the University of Texas.

“There was maybe a little bit of fear that crept in,” he said last week. “That, hey, I’m going to need to make the most of these starts when they come.”

Fast-forward eight months, and Spieth was on board a private jet, hands still trembling, trying in vain to fall asleep. Earlier that day he had holed an improbable bunker shot on the 72nd hole and won the John Deere Classic in a playoff. Now, he was en route to Scotland, to the British Open, and on the long flight he braced himself for the myriad ways his life was about to change.

After all, Jordan Spieth was no stranger to exceeding expectations – he once shot 62 as a 12-year-old. He was the No. 1-ranked junior in the star-studded Class of 2015. He joined Tiger Woods as the only players to win multiple U.S. Junior titles. In his lone full season at Texas, Spieth won three times and helped the Longhorns capture their first national title in 40 years. At the NCAA Championship, he holed a 4-iron shot on the 15th hole at Riviera to secure a crucial point. At the 2011 Walker Cup, he was the leading point-getter for an American team that featured, among others, Peter Uihlein, Harris English and world No. 1 amateurs Patrick Cantlay and Chris Williams.

With that background, sure, he was trending toward greatness, but few could have predicted that Spieth would script the best rookie season since Tiger in ’96. In 12 short months, he went from making his first start of the year at Torrey Pines (only because of a late sponsor exemption) to teeing it up at Tiger’s 18-man cash-grab at Sherwood.

In between, he became the first teen to win a Tour event in more than 80 years, racked up three runners-up, six other top 10s and nearly $4 million in earnings.

In between, he became the first player since Woods to begin the year with no status and reach the Tour Championship (where he tied for second), and the youngest ever to represent the U.S. at the Presidents Cup.

In between, he became one of Camp Ponte Vedra’s media darlings, filmed commercials for Under Armour, and played Pine Valley and Augusta National in the same day.

In between, he became a crowd favorite, the Next Big Thing, and the envy (and inspiration) of college kids everywhere who hope their career trajectory will follow a similar path.

Newsmaker of the Year, No. 10: Vijay Singh

Newsmaker of the Year: Honorable mentions

Henrik Stenson: Articles, photos and videos

Ask Spieth, of course, and he’ll claim that his breakthrough 2013 was simply the product of good luck, that three fortunate hole-outs fueled his meteoric rise to No. 22 in the world rankings.

First there was the hole-in-one at the Puerto Rico Open. That third-round ace propelled him into contention at the opposite-field event, and he eventually finished one shot behind. The T-2 finish, however, got him into the next week’s tournament, which is no small consolation for a player trying to find his way.

Similar magic ensued the following week at the Tampa Bay Championship, where he again found himself in the mix on the final day. Needing to play the final two holes in 1 under to post another top-1o finish, Spieth holed a flop shot from a near-impossible spot on 17 to finish joint seventh and essentially lock up special temporary status on Tour for the remainder of the season.

No shot, however, was as spectacular – or as meaningful – as his bunker shot on the 72nd hole at the John Deere. It thrust him into a three-man playoff with Zach Johnson and David Hearn, and Spieth eventually prevailed on the fifth extra hole. He became the first teen to win on Tour since Ralph Guldahl in 1931, and the win gave him a two-year exemption, a spot in the following week’s Open, a date next April at the Masters and, not least, instant fame.

“It was funny looking back and noticing how many times I holed out where it was really important,” he said last week. “A lot of it required luck, so sometimes it’s better to be lucky.”

From Q-School flameout to competing with golf royalty? Sorry, Jordan, but that required a bit more than luck.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.