Do you know the next biggest sports star in the United States? I’ll give you a hint…he still can’t legally buy his own beer. He was born in the 1990s. He was a Texas Longhorn. And he’s done something that only one other athlete in his sport has ever done, and that athlete is arguably the greatest at his trade in history. Still drawing a blank, well what if I told you that he has secured his pro card, became the youngest winner on the PGA Tour since 1931, and pocketed $3.8 million in earnings, all this year. Give up…then let me introduce you to Jordan Spieth.
Jordan Spieth captured the golf world this year and with good reason. He began the year as an amateur and finished it by becoming the youngest player on Tour to win an event since 1931, competing for the U.S. in the President’s Cup, and is now the 20th ranked golfer in the world. But to those who have seen him develop not only as a golfer, but as a man, they aren’t surprised. And that’s what makes Jordan Spieth so likable, and at the perfect face for golf.
Born in Texas, son of collegiate athlete parents, Spieth was destined for a career in athletics. But unlike his basketball playing mother and baseball playing father, Spieth fell in love with a different game. And it didn’t take long for a 16-year-old Spieth to put his name on its map. Winning the U.S. Junior Amateur in 2009 and 2011, he joined Tiger Woods as the event’s only multiple winners.
By the time Spieth got to Austin, Texas, the expectations had been set. He didn’t disappoint. Leading Texas in scoring average and winning their first NCAA championship in 40 years, all as a freshman, Spieth was never your typical college kid, and yet he was. Here is a kid that rolls the rock to the level of PGA contenders, hits a mammoth drive, and stares down his putts without any sign of hesitance. And yet here is a kid you’ll find goofing around like any other kid, smiling, laughing, and full of confidence.
You see, it’s the perfect blend of raw talent, good looks, youthful invincibility, and 20-year-old quirkiness that wins the hearts of everyone. Older men envy his pinpoint short game and fearlessness. Younger men imitate his swagger and his style. Ladies of all ages fall for those boyish good looks and innocent smile. And Jordan Spieth is everything that American sports needs. That’s a lot of pressure on a kid who can’t even buy his own beer yet.
It hasn’t been since the arrival of Tiger Woods that there has been this much buzz around a golfer. And yet he possesses something that Tiger never had. Likability. Spieth hasn’t lost his humility or forgotten that family comes first and he can thank his siblings for that. Spieth’s sister suffers from autism. Her accomplishments, although on a different plane, are far more impressive. And Jordan Spieth realizes that. “My brother and I are important”, Spieth said, “but she is more important. Ellie always comes first.” It is in that humility that Spieth has begun setting up the Jordan Spieth Foundation to help kids similar to his sister. How’s that for a 20-year-old kid?
Stories like Jordan Spieth’s don’t come around too often. And it seems that when they do, somewhere along the way the lifestyle and the money lead to mistakes and poor decisions that forever affect those fortunate enough to have such talent (See Johnny Manziel, Aldon Smith, etc). But should Spieth continue to stay grounded and perfect his craft, he has the potential to go down as not only one of the greatest golfers of all-time, but also one of the most influential. And with the professional sports world hurting for role models, Jordan Spieth may be just what the U.S. sports scene needs.