Among the many talented young players in the game of golf, something about Jordan Spieth separates him from the pack.
The 19-year-old prodigy continued living up to the hype surrounding him on Thursday at the 2013 Open Championship. In a wonderful display of ball-striking and resolve in an unfamiliar environment, Spieth fired a two-under 69 to put himself into early contention at golf's oldest major championship.
Here's a look at the updated leaderboard:
Spieth won last week's John Deere Classic to become the youngest winner on the PGA Tour since 1931, and he's been extremely impressive thus far on the tough Muirfield Golf Links in Gullane, Scotland.
Houston Chronicle sports editor Nick Mathews tweeted:
My goodness. Jordan Spieth shot 2-under and is tied for ninth place at the British Open.— Nick Mathews (@Nick_Mathews) July 18, 2013
As much of a whirlwind as it must be for Spieth to even be on the top circuit at such a young age, the past seven days or so had to be all the more intense.
It was a rather unlikely scenario for the former University of Texas star to win at TPC Deere Run. This lucky-but-brilliant bunker shot he holed out for a birdie on the 72nd hole ultimately took him into the playoff with current British Open clubhouse leader Zach Johnson and David Hearn:
The breakthrough victory not only qualified Spieth for Muirfield, but it also made him eligible for the tour's postseason.
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Before, he was living off sponsors' exemptions and other invitations—and capitalizing on them. In what will likely be the first of many triumphs for Spieth, he suddenly wound up 11th in the FedEx Cup point standings.
If there was any doubt as to whether Spieth has the "it" factor, it was put to rest on Thursday at the Open. As the last entrant into the world-class field, Spieth didn't have much time to prepare for the severe test ahead in Gullane.
That didn't really matter, because Spieth hit a sensational 15 of 18 greens in regulation and holed enough putts to keep his round going smoothly.
Spieth himself took to Twitter before the championship began to praise the venue:
Muirfield is incredible.. One of the greatest in the world! Very fair but challenging.. And in perfect shape @The_Open— Jordan Spieth (@JordanSpieth) July 16, 2013
As ESPN's telecast pointed out, some players complained about the difficult, dry conditions and a couple of Thursday pin placements. It seemed, though, Spieth's tweet reflected how he felt.
Given how well he played under the rushed circumstances just to get to the Open in the first place, the challenge for Spieth was obvious, but he was up to the task. It's surprising how well Spieth stacks up with the game's best already, too.
Entering this championship, Spieth is third in all-around ranking on the PGA Tour behind only Tiger Woods and recent U.S. Open champion Justin Rose. The youngster has six top 10s, including the win at the John Deere, and his accuracy off the tee is ideal for Muirfield.
Many of Spieth's youthful peers have wonderfully built games, but he has visibly effortless power and innate composure that is also evident just by watching him.
Asserting he'll take home the claret jug come Sunday may seem ridiculous, but the numbers don't lie. Perhaps the No. 59 golfer in the world already has the stuff of major champions.
Regardless of how he finishes, it appears Spieth is of a different species among the promising young talent in golf.