Considering what we know now, Jordan Spieth’s 72nd-hole bunker shot at the John Deere Classic might have been the most significant shot of 2013.
Beginning the year with no status on any major tour, the then-19-year-old made birdie from the bunker on the final hole, then prevailed in a five-hole playoff against Zach Johnson and David Hearn.
Spieth was the 810th-ranked player at the start of 2013. He was No. 120 at the time of his victory. Now? He’s No. 10, sandwiched between Sergio Garcia and Jim Furyk.
After his breakthrough win at the Deere, Spieth came back a few weeks later and lost in a playoff at the Wyndham. From there, he posted another top 5 in Boston, finished T-2 at the Tour Championship and was named to the U.S. Presidents Cup team. To start the calendar year he was runner-up to Johnson at the Tournament of Champions, then led the Masters with 11 holes to play and was in the final group at The Players. He arrives in Silvis, Ill., riding a wave of four consecutive top 20s, and he is one of the favorites for next week’s Open Championship.
And all of this couldn’t have been possible, of course, without his win at TPC Deere Run.
“My golf world has changed completely since last year at this time,” he said Wednesday during his pre-tournament news conference. “It feels like it was a few years ago, to be honest.”
Only a few weeks from turning 21, this week Spieth has seen his face splashed on posters, banners and billboards. His bobblehead was handed out to kids at one of the early-week events.
“I just feel like it’s almost a second home to me,” he said. “It has been for what it did for my career.”