SOUTHPORT, England – Jordan Spieth has been here before. A couple of years ago, back when he was just 21, he won a pair of majors and was compared to a pair of legends.
The comparisons continue.
By winning the 146th Open, Spieth joins Jack Nicklaus as the only player to win three different major championships before the age of 24.
Spieth picked up his first two majors – the Masters and U.S. Open – in 2015. At the time, like this time, Spieth was mentioned in the same breath as Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, whom most consider the greatest to ever play.
That’s hallowed ground. It’s also filled with quicksand. You have to navigate that territory carefully, especially when others (the media) ask you to compare yourself to legends.
“I've answered this question a few times a couple years ago, so I'll be careful with my answer. It's amazing. I feel blessed to be able to play the game I love, but I don't think that comparisons are – I don't compare myself,” Spieth said.
“And I certainly appreciate it. And we work really hard to have that, with that being the goal. Therefore, I enjoy moments like you saying that. But I'm very careful as to what that means going forward because what those guys have done has transcended the sport. And in no way, shape or form do I think I'm anywhere near that, whatsoever. So it's a good start, but there is a long way to go.”
A couple of weeks ago, Spieth was on vacation in Cabo San Lucas. He posted a photo with himself alongside, among others, Micheal Phelps and Michael Jordan.
While struggling in the final round at Royal Birkdale, Spieth’s caddie, Michael Greller, encouraged him by telling him that he belonged alongside the greats. That he was one of the greats.
"I’ve got something to say to you. Do you remember that group you were with? You’re that caliber of athlete. But I need you to believe that right now because you're in a great position in this tournament. This is a new tournament. We're starting over here."
That was on the seventh tee, a par 3. Spieth struggled before and after that pep talk, but it stirred him and helped push him to victory.
“Michael did a great thing today,” Spieth said.
The comparisons are there, and as long as Spieth continues to make or match history, they always will be. And even if he doesn’t want to publically lump himself into the conversation, he can always use the inspiration.