If Jordan Spieth wins the 2014 U.S. Open, he will have one problem—he won’t be legally old enough to enjoy the spoils of his victory with a cold one or some champagne. Still, it’s probably a safe bet that would be a problem the 20-year-old golfing phenom would love to have come Sunday.
Spieth looked like he was ready to take home the green jacket at Augusta when he held a three-stroke lead on the final day of the Masters, but he lost that grip on the leaderboard and finished looking up at champion Bubba Watson.
An experience like that could potentially scar such a young golfer, but Spieth seems determined to learn from it and translate the lessons to a championship at the U.S. Open. At least that is the plan if his comments, via Kyle Porter of CBS Sports, are any indication:
The goal isn't just to feel the feelings and try to get the comfort level, now it's to really try and put into place what Augusta as well as The Players have taught me, just certain things on the course. Out here it's going to be even more difficult to stay patient, which has been the biggest thing that's led me to be successful in those two events.
This is the hardest tournament to be patient in, in the world. So, yeah, to answer your question, I think that -- I believe that I can win this golf tournament. I feel comfortable on this golf course. I think it fits my game. And when I step on the first tee that's what I'm trying to do.
And if I get into contention, I'm definitely, by this point, am going to draw off any experience I've had, which now I do have a little experience. So that's only going to help me. And I feel like I will be able to close this one out, if I get an opportunity.
The fact that the young Spieth isn’t sporting a happy-to-be-here attitude heading into another major under the bright PGA spotlight is an encouraging sign. The goal is to make history, as Justin Ray of the Golf Channel noted, and Spieth looks ready to do just that:
Confidence and potential is an enticing combination in the sports world, and the public has responded accordingly. In fact, more bets have reportedly been placed on Spieth than any other golfer heading into the U.S. Open.
It’s not just hype that should have Spieth fans excited about his chances, though.
Pinehurst No. 2 is a cruel mistress, as evidenced by Michael Campbell’s even-par victory in 2005 and Payne Stewart’s one-over victory in 1999 at Pinehurst. Posting a par score is almost always a productive day at the U.S. Open, and the 2014 version may be no different.
That means timely birdies will play a critical role in the ultimate leaderboard, and Spieth ranks 13th on the PGA Tour in birdie average (4.05) and 16th in par-breaking percentage (22.78 percent). He is also an impressive eighth in putting from 15-20 feet (26.6 percent), which is crucial because that is the range where many of those nerve-wracking birdie putts will originate from.
What’s more, few players in the world are as well-suited to save par in important moments as Spieth. He ranks 11th on the tour in scramble percentage (63.66 percent) and won’t panic if he finds himself off the fairways or the greens after a couple of shots on a given hole.
It is all the perfect formula for a victory at the U.S. Open. He will pick up imperative birdies on occasion and preserve them by avoiding too many bogies thanks to his scrambling skills. Throw in Spieth’s experience under the gripping pressure of a major on Sunday from Augusta, and you may just be looking at the youngest U.S. Open winner since before the Great Depression.
Hopefully the celebration will last an entire year so Spieth can eventually partake.
*All stats courtesy of Spieth’s PGA Tour profile page.
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