While most 16-year-olds are lounging by a pool or attempting to hold down part-time summer jobs, Jordan Spieth is preparing for his second career start on the PGA Tour.
Three weeks ago at the Byron Nelson Championship, a star was born. Spieth dazzled fans with his exceptional play and captivated the sports world with his deep, Sunday run.
For Spieth, every day since his memorable top 20 finish has been hectic.
“Pretty much every day has been an interview,” Spieth said, “But now that school is out it’s nice to take a deep breath and really look back and relax and enjoy this week and enjoy what happened at the Byron.”
With all the time he spends practicing and preparing for tournaments, it’s hard to believe Spieth finds time to be a normal teenager. But part of his success comes from his ability to maintain a balance between golf and his social life.
““For me I’ve got to be hanging out with my friends at nights and on the weekends,' he said. 'I like fishing. I like going out to the lake and hanging out. I mean obviously my goals are as high as anyone else’s when it comes to golf, but… it’s a marathon. It’s good to enjoy everything that is going on while you are in it.”This week, Spieth is playing in the St. Jude Classic in Memphis. He will be teeing it up against household names Lee Westwood, Padraig Harrington, and Retief Goosen. Spieth acknowledges that he can’t get caught up in the past accomplishments of his competitors this week.
“I’m a fan of theirs,' he said. 'I get to watch them every week in the majors and all the other tournaments, but just like I said for the Byron, when they come out here they are just guys that I’m playing against and we’re all trying to win the same thing.”
As Spieth walks to the first tee for his opening round at the St. Jude, he can pull from his experiences from the Byron Nelson - but this doesn't discount all the nerves completely.
“The Byron gave me the experience of those first tee shots. And now I’ll come out here and I will have already hit those first tee shots and I’ll still be nervous, but when crowds are lining the fairway on the first shot, it’s not going to be quite as nerve-racking,” Spieth said.
Spieth also believes his experiences from three weeks ago at the Byron Nelson Championship will help calm him a little sooner into his rounds this week in Memphis. He believes his new learned focus will help him settle down and start playing his game early which could lead to a run like the one he made at the Byron Nelson.
As far as expectations go, Spieth knows he has what it takes to make another charge this week.
“I know the field is a little better here, but I proved to myself if I play my game, and I play well, and I control my emotions then I have a chance,” Spieth said. “In the Byron, I got really antsy and jumpy, but that’s not really me. All in all I’m a pretty relaxed kind of guy but still focused on what needs to be done.”
Spieth is currently a 150-1 underdog to win the St. Jude Classic, but you wouldn’t be able to tell based off his confidence.
“I’m going to go out there and try to win. It may sound kind of dumb with the guys I’m playing against and being 16, but no one even expected me to make the cut at the Byron. I’m just going to go out there and try to make as many birdies as I can and if I end up towards the top of the leader board, we’ll see what happens.”
While he wants to win, Spieth knows it won't be a disappointment if he doesn't.
“If I don’t win this it’s not going to be a failure. If it comes down to dumb mental mistakes, then yeah, I’ll be extremely disappointed. But if I play the way I want to play and it just isn’t enough then it proves that there are guys out there that are better than me.”
In the weeks leading up to the St. Jude, the teen has busily been trying to improve his putting. Even at the Byron Nelson Championship Spieth’s putting wasn’t where he would have liked it to be. If he can get the flat stick rolling the way he knows he can, Spieth believes he will be in contention once again come Sunday.
As play begins Thursday at the St. Jude Classic, all eyes will be on Spieth. He will be looking to duplicate his performance from three weeks ago at the Byron Nelson Championship. But he can now take that performance ever further. He has the experience, he has learned from the pressure, and now the entire sports world gets to sit back and watch it all unfold once again this weekend in Memphis.
Jonathan Goldman contributed to this article.