Spieth determined to enjoy unexpected trip

Jordan Spieth reacts after winning the John Deere Classic, earning himself a spot in the Open Championship this week.

Jordan Spieth reacts after winning the John Deere Classic, earning himself a spot in the Open Championship this week.

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GULLANE, Scotland –- It was almost two years ago when Jordan Spieth was introduced to links golf as a member of the U.S. team that played in the Walker Cup at Royal Aberdeen Golf Club.

At 17, Spieth was going to be a rising freshman at the University of Texas when he left Aberdeen, but the trip to Austin was short-lived, lasting only his freshman season and a half of his sophomore campaign before turning pro.

Things have changed quickly for the now PGA Tour rookie -- now a multimillionaire, earning $2,034,179 and winning his first PGA Tour event last week at the John Deere Classic in a three-man playoff. (Read all about it here and here)

“I just wanted to get my Tour card for next season, and I think we've done that now for a couple years,” Spieth said after his practice round at Muirfield on Tuesday. “Just the TOUR Championship would be unbelievable to be one of those 30 guys to make it. There's still a long way to go. You've got to play great golf those first few events of the Playoffs. But to be in a position to do so is very reassuring, very nice.”

It’s hard to fathom that last fall Spieth missed out on Q-School and decided to go the way of sponsor exemptions -- a route few have succeeded with.

But the gamble worked for the two-time U.S. Junior champion.

In his first seven events on the PGA Tour, Spieth had three top 10s, including a T-2 at the Puerto Rico Open and enough money to get unlimited sponsor exemptions.

Spieth continued to parlay those experiences into legitimate threats to win, but always falling short.

“I think it had to do with being in contention four or five times before,” Spieth said of one of the keys to his victory on Sunday. “I learned a little bit each time, got a little more poised. Same thing with Michael, we both ‑‑ yeah, Puerto Rico, Tampa, Congressional, Hilton Head, we were able to learn something a little bit.”

But where Spieth learned a lot was Colonial.

“Colonial especially there were certain shots that I played that just weren't the right shots at the time, Saturday and Sunday,” Spieth said of how his best chance for a win prior to the John Deere.

Now Spieth looks back and reflects on those experiences as building blocks to his win and his trip to Muirfield, his first time on a links course since Royal Aberdeen.

Jumping on the charter from Moline to Edinburgh, Spieth was the talk of the plane receiving congratulations from many on the flight that arrived in Scotland on Monday morning.

With his head still swimming from the day before, Spieth took a nap and did some sightseeing of the old town and made his way to Muirfield Tuesday.

“It's really easy to get focused on,” Spieth said of playing in a major. “Once you get here and you see the atmosphere, you see the best players in the world, how hard they're working for this week, not that they don't for any other week, but a major championship inside the ropes is just a different feeling.”

For Spieth it is his third major, he played in the 2012 U.S. Open at Olympic Club and just made the cut and then shot a 1-under 69-70 for the weekend to finish T-21. Earlier this year at Merion, Spieth was not as lucky and missed the cut.

Now Spieth will get to experience the oldest major in golf at one of the premier links courses in the world.

“I just want to have fun,” Spieth said. “I didn't expect to be here. It's just a new opportunity at an event where I thought I was just going to be sitting at home watching. It's the type of golf that I love.”

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