About a month apart this spring, 20-year-old Jordan Spieth led the Masters and The Players during the final rounds. It follows that he was asked Wednesday at the HP Byron Nelson Championship if he considered talk of his being golf’s “next big thing” as a burden or compliment.
Demonstrating maturity beyond his years and being consistent with past behavior, Spieth again showed he thinks it’s important to block out external factors. This will serve him well if he stays the course.
“I don’t even hear it,” he said. “I don’t view it as either one. I’m just here to get on the first hole and try and win a golf tournament. … That kind of talk, it doesn’t do good to pay attention to either way.”
• About a year ago, TV golf talking heads were conjecturing on who would have a better career: Jordan Spieth or Patrick Cantlay. Now, suddenly, Spieth vs. McIlroy seems like a sensible debate.
McIlroy has won two majors by eight strokes apiece and can dominate more with his driver, but Spieth has a chance to outdo him because he putts and scrambles better.
Check back in 25 years. That’s 2039. Spieth will be 45 then.
• Spieth was a 16-year-old Dallas high school kid when he contended at the 2010 Nelson early on the final nine holes. That tournament, he said Wednesday, felt like “years and years and years ago, a different life almost.”
He was reminded of that experience Wednesday morning when he was working out and saw video of the 2010 Nelson.
“I looked like I was 9 years old,” Spieth said. “It was funny.”
OK, math being math, then he looks 13ish now.
• Nelson officials probably never felt better than when Spieth said he’d like to play his hometown tournament until he’s 70.
“This is the tournament that I love probably the most, the dearest to my heart,” he said, clearly pulling on the heartstrings on the men in red pants who run the event.
• Spieth conceded that he was “pressing too hard” in some tournaments he didn’t close out over the past year or so. But the Masters and Players weren’t among them, he said.
• So much for the idea that all big-timers fly privately. Players winner Martin Kaymer’s commercial flight from Jacksonville to Dallas was delayed and then canceled Monday, meaning he had a long day at the airport.
He finally flew out Tuesday and ended up taking a three-hour nap after arriving.
“I was very, very tired,” he said Wednesday. “When you’re sitting at the airport all day and what happened on Saturday and Sunday, it takes a lot out of you.”
• You might say Kaymer won The Players with improved scrambling. He ranked 192nd on Tour in scrambling entering the week but got up and down 14 of 18 times (77.78 percent).
• Ian Poulter has lashed back at NBC golf analyst Johnny Miller in recent years. The latest was in a not-so-veiled criticism Sunday when Poulter called the NBC commentary “bad” and added, “Someone get this old man a taxi.”
Just one man’s opinion, but if Miller would get in a cab and leave, TV golf would get more boring. So if we’re voting on which of the two should dial back the arrogance, Poulter is the choice.
• Your correspondent has seen enough in golf that he’s rarely amazed anymore. But he was blown away last week at The Players – and we’re not talking about Kaymer’s wild finish.
We’re talking about magician Jim Munroe. In terms of disbelief, the Jean Van de Velde collapse and the Tiger Woods tricks of winning U.S. Opens on a broken leg and by 15 strokes have nothing on Munroe’s acts at The Players.
He performed his illusions on camera with a couple of PGA Tour players and at a Bible study gathering of 100-plus at Fred Funk’s residence.
I happened to be one of his pigeons. Munroe, who overcame a rare form of leukemia late last decade, asked me to think of someone close to me and then write the name down on a piece of paper. Then he guessed the person’s name. During a card trick a few minutes later, the six of clubs turned into the ace of spades while it was in my hand.
As for his remarkable entertainment, don’t take my word for it. Google has a way of confirming incredulous things.
• Trivia question: Since the start of the 2013 season, Tiger Woods has entered the final round inside the top five a Tour-leading nine times. Who is next, with eight? (Answer down low.)
• Add this piece of advice to the growing number of grow-the-game initiatives: Put a second cup on greens, this one double-sized, for kids, beginners or anyone else looking for alternative fun.
We don’t throw major-league pitching at kids when they start playing baseball. We let them begin with T-ball so they might want to come back the next day.
• You want an early U.S. Open favorite? Don’t look now, but McIlroy has four consecutive top 10s on Tour. He led The Players in birdies, with 25, and leads the Tour in birdies per round (4.75).
But if he is going to win the Open at Pinehurst No. 2, where one must putt and chip well on and around the turtle-back greens, the streaky putter will need one of his good weeks. He ranks 176th on Tour from 5 to 15 feet (39.86 percent).
• Trivia answer: Jordan Spieth with eight, one more than Matt Kuchar and Bill Haas.
• When the golf guy’s woman says she doesn’t have anything to wear, it means she has no new clothes. When the golf guy says he has nothing to wear, it means he has no clean clothes.