Jul 25

Spieth Flips Switch at Open

Spieth Legend Takes Shape One Major at a Time

This week, we learned that it’s never a good idea to give the olive wreath to anyone too early in the weekend. We reminded ourselves of the precariousness involved in maintaining a three shot lead coming into Sunday. We watched once more as British courses wreaked havoc with those unwilling or unable to stay on the fairway. Jordan Spieth is the object of all those sentiments, but there’s another side to the equation. Jordan Spieth is one of the most uniquely qualified to survive such circumstances. For a while, it looked as if he might give it away in a Masters-style meltdown, but on Sunday, he flipped a switch, and pulled off one of the most memorable stretches of golf in recent or distant memory.

Flipping that switch began with a potential disaster, as many wake-up calls do. That little guy in our heads who calls our mental forces together and warns us that the ship will sink if we don’t change now, lives in the subconscious. As far as we know, it’s not a little guy at all. Some people who can’t find that switch grow up thinking it’s a higher power or entity playing fast and loose with our fates. It might be anyone between Zeus or the Big Cahuna who takes the blame. Maybe some of us just don’t have it, but Jordan Spieth does. He stood on the 13th, but only barely, with a steep shot sure to send him into double or triple bogey territory. Already having given up his three shot lead to Matt Kuchar, who was doing all the right things to make the most of the opportunity, the mental troops must have been screaming. However, Spieth sent a blind shot from an impossible lie in just the right direction, and salvaged a bogey. Whether Zeus could have produced what happened over the next four holes is doubtful. He’s only an Olympian god. Spieth coolly birdied the 14th, shaking off all the previous chaos. His eagle on the 15th is hard to put in writing, but was simply awesome to witness. By the time he birdied 16 and 17, my inner critic wanted to say “Now you’re just showing off.” At the end of the day, Matt Kuchar was a runner-up again, a really fine one who made a great effort, but still a runner-up. He can only hope that this sort of weekend doesn’t become a ‘thing.’ I’m confident that despite Kuchar’s frustration with the calculating Spieth, he wouldn’t have it any other way. If the win is going to matter, you want to beat good people, and whenever possible, the best people.
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So, what is that switch? Is it Nature, fate, or something within us? Jordan Spieth understands it better than we do. He righted the ship, and fulfilled on his obvious potential. At 24 years of age, he has won his 3rd major. His legend train might lack the belligerence of Tiger’s, but he is still the next man up to break the Nicklaus majors record. He has has now won three of the four events that make up the ‘career grand slam,” and when he takes the fourth, he will enter a small pantheon of greats who have pulled it off. Spieth doesn’t appear to be beating himself up physically along the way, which will probably result in the longevity needed to take on Jack’s mark of 18. And speaking of Jack Nicklaus, there’s another guy who knew where that switch was. They’re in cahoots, at least spiritually.

Next up for the saga is the PGA, the beginning of the next 20 or 25 years for Spieth. In 2017, the only thing we can be sure of is that this book is still far from written.

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