Spieth ready for a full-fledged 2014 season
Friday, January 3, 2014
KAPALUA, Hawaii – Jordan Spieth is no longer a rookie. After playing what would be considered a full PGA Tour schedule in 2013 that included a victory at the John Deere Classic and earnings of $3,879,820, the Texas native is now a full-fledged member of the PGA Tour.
At 20, Spieth is one of those bright spots to whom commissioner Tim Finchem has pointed in recent years that will carry the Tour into a new era as major draws such as Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods inevitably play less.
But like many, Spieth has not been bitten by the play-less bug. In fact, his plans for this year are to play 26 or 27 events, with his focus on the majors, events in which Spieth struggled in 2013. He made one cut in three majors, a T-44 at the Open Championship, and failed to play on the weekend at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship.
“The next stage for me is, I think, major championships, World Golf Championships,” Spieth said. “Either one have I been really in contention on the weekend yet. So I know that that's a new feeling in golf, something that people in the past do struggle with their first time, so I'm looking forward to getting into that position and then seeing how patient I can be.”
Lost amid the 2013 breakout season, which included a spot on the Presidents Cup team, is that Spieth is barely beyond his teen years and navigating his way around the PGA Tour.
In his new-member orientation this week, Spieth had questions about the FedEx Cup system and pension program. Those issues were far from his mind last year after he had missed getting his card in Q-School.
This also is Spieth's first trip to Hawaii and his first full season, with plans to play numerous times on the West Coast. Most of those venues will be new to him, because he played only at Torrey Pines for the Farmers Insurance Open in last year's West Coast swing.
Inside the ropes, the youngster still feels like he doesn’t own his swing. He can get the ball around if he needs to, but during the season he concedes that his swing can look different from the one with which he started the season.
“We worked a little on my grip and a little on my load on the backswing to kind of flatten the plane down on my downswing, so I was able to hit more draws now,” Spieth said of the changes he has made in the later quarter of 2013. “Throughout the season, I worked a little more, for whatever reason. Playing week in and week out, I started coming a little more over the top of it and then just playing fades. I wanted to get my natural draw back, and so I kind of have both ball flights now instead of being one‑sided.”
Although Spieth has shown tremendous upside, he also has displayed a humility and respect for the game, which can be rare for a younger player.
This year, Spieth plans to play events that gave him sponsor exemptions in the past. For the John Deere Classic, he intends to be in Moline, Ill., for the tournament's media day, an unusual commitment on Tour.
“Those were experiences that helped me significantly,” Spieth said. “I'm not forgetting about the fact they gave me certain exemptions.”