Luke Elvy: A Round for the Ages
When a 21-year-old Tiger Woods won the 1997 Masters, CBS commentator Jim Nantz claimed it was “a win for the ages.” While not on the same level of significance, few will argue Jordan Spieth’s scintillating Sunday stampede was ‘a round for the ages.’
When the talented Texan set out for the final round no one, not even Spieth, thought a course record 8-under 63 was possible. Most were predicting even par or a 70 would be enough to win the Australian Open, what we witnessed was mesmerising.
Jordan Spieth (Credit: Anthony Powter)
“That was definitely the best round I’ve ever played.” admitted the American at the trophy presentation on the 18th green. “At the start I didn’t think such a round was out there, but the putts kept going in, it was an awesome experience.”
Rory McIlroy went one step further tweeting, “You could give me another 100 rounds today at The Australian and I wouldn’t sniff 63… Well done @JordanSpieth very impressive!” That was high praise indeed from the world number one.
Setting out in 30 km/hr winds from the northeast, even par through the difficult front nine would have been impressive. Instead the Texan went on a tear making four birdies between holes from 3 to 7. His outward 32 was six shots better than the field average.
His second flourish came from holes 14 to 18 making another four red numbers, but they came when the wind had died down. Yet despite firing a flawless 8 birdies, Spieth said “playing holes 8 to 11 even par” was his greatest accomplishment.
That says a lot about the 21-year-old’s maturity. He cards the round of his life and realises the four straight pars through the heart of the course was what maintained his momentum. Impressive, then again Spieth has never “acted” his age.
At 16, and still in high school Spieth played against the PGA Tour’s best as a sponsors invite at the Byron Nelson Championship, in his local Dallas. Finishing T16th opened the golf world’s eyes to this future star.
Proving it was no fluke, he produced something similar the following year, claiming two US Junior Amateur titles and becoming the world’s top ranked amateur in the process. His collegiate career was much the same, helping his team win the NCAA championship and Player of the Year honours.
Turning pro didn’t slow Spieth down, six top 10s in his rookie season was trumped when he holed out from the bunker to claim the John Deere Classic in a playoff. At 19, he was the first teenager to win a PGA Tour event since 1931.
This year more records were in his sights, but he narrowly missed becoming the youngest winner of both The Masters and Players, playing in the final group on championship Sunday. He also impressed in Ryder Cup debut in September.
However, what we witnessed at The Australian on Sunday trumps all that, not because he won the Australian Open, more the way he won it. As Spieth later admitted “I was in the zone.”
Get used to seeing more of it, this “kid” is something special, like his 63.