SPI­ETH – THE BEST OF A GEN­ER­A­TION

Golf Australia - - TEEING OFF - BY BREN­DAN JAMES | GOLF AUS­TRALIA ED­I­TOR

IF Jor­dan Spi­eth’s per­for­mance in the fi­nal round of the Mas­ters proved any­thing, it was his abil­ity to con­jure up the most in­cred­i­ble of shots un­der in­tense pres­sure.

At the height of his pow­ers, Tiger Woods would do the same. Those that played along­side him said the 14-time ma­jor cham­pion seemed to have the un­canny abil­ity of be­ing able to will the ball into the hole.

Young Spi­eth has strik­ingly sim­i­lar abil­i­ties on the big­gest stages. His 30-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole on Sun­day af­ter­noon was a putt at least half a dozen play­ers had missed in the hour be­fore. He rolled it straight in to mo­men­tar­ily grab a share of the lead with Pa­trick Reed. Go back to The Open Cham­pi­onship last year … 15th hole fi­nal round, he sinks a 50- foot putt for ea­gle to snatch the lead away from Matt Kuchar and the Claret Jug is his.

No player since Woods, in his prime, is as men­tally strong as Spi­eth. He doesn’t have the pret­ti­est look­ing swing. He can hit the oc­ca­sional squir­relly shot (his drive on the 18th hole on Sun­day at the Mas­ters is a good ex­am­ple) and some will say his swing is tech­ni­cally flawed.

All this might be true. But he knows how to get his ball around a golf course in the least num­ber of shots pos­si­ble, which is, af­ter all, the aim of the game. Jor­dan Spi­eth golfs his ball bet­ter than any­one of his gen­er­a­tion.

The 24-year-old Texan al­ready has three ma­jor ti­tles to his name and there are plenty more to come. His per­for­mances at Au­gusta (one win, two sec­onds and a third in just five starts) sug­gest he’s go­ing to have a wardrobe full of green jack­ets by the time he’s done. Given his creative play, there will prob­a­bly be more Claret Jugs adorn­ing the Spi­eth man­tel. There was plenty of hype around Rory McIl­roy win­ning the ca­reer Grand Slam at Au­gusta and he gave it his best shot – but ul­ti­mately the pres­sure of be­com­ing the sixth player to achieve the feat be­came too much.

There is ev­ery like­li­hood now that Spi­eth will beat him into the Grand Slam club. He will get his chance in Au­gust at the PGA Cham­pi­onship at Bel­lerive Coun­try Club in Mis­souri. Eleven of the past 16 ma­jor cham­pi­ons have been aged in their 20s. That trend will def­i­nitely con­tinue and Spi­eth is likely to be the chief bene­fac­tor.

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