Jordan Spieth Showing His Game Is Built to Last at 2015 PGA Championship

Lindsay Gibbs@linzsports Featured ColumnistAugust 14, 2015

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Jordan Spieth looked human for a bit on Thursday at the PGA Championship, managing nothing but pars for 10 holes before finally bogeying the 11th.

But he bounced back quickly, shooting two birdies to end his round on Thursday and then adding six more on Friday to temporarily grab a share of the lead. 

He entered the clubhouse on Friday at six under par, one behind then-leader David Lingmerth. Spieth now sits in a five-way tie for seventh place, three shots behind Jason Day and Matt Jones, who led when play was suspended for weather late in the second round.

It's becoming abundantly clear that this is what we can expect from Spieth, major in and major out. 

He is the real deal, and even though he's only 22, he has the type of game that is built to hold up for years—actually, decades—to come.

Spieth has now officially had at least a share of the lead at all four majors this year. He won two of those, finished tied for fourth at the other one and is going into the weekend at Whistling Straits in great position to win his first PGA Championship and break even more records.

In case you're wondering, that's ridiculous.

Bob Harig of ESPN attempted to put Spieth's quest this weekend into context: 

Spieth is trying to become the first player to ever sweep the American-based majors in the same year. If he prevails, Spieth would join Ben Hogan (1953) and Tiger Woods (2000) as the only players to win three majors in the same year.

Spieth is putting up flashy, history-smashing statistics with a game that is, at first glance, anything but ostentatious.

The Texan's greatest on-course attributes aren't his long drives or his aggressive chips, but rather his accuracy, patience and mental toughness. 

There are plenty of golfers who can win tournaments when playing their A-game—during those rare weeks when every part of their game is hitting on all cylinders.

Spieth, however, is seemingly comfortable with the grind. He appears okay digging deep, taking things hole-by-hole, and fighting for whatever he can get. When he does get a break—like he did when he holed out of the bunker for a birdie midway through his round on Friday—he takes that momentum and runs.

His game is well-rounded and relies on meticulous planning, a great short game and resiliency. Oh, and he's pretty solid on the greens, too.

"Statistically he's the best putter in the game, and he may go down as he best anyone has ever seen," Ian Poulter said about Spieth last month, as reported by Marika Washchyshyn of

SHEBOYGAN, WI - AUGUST 13:  Jordan Spieth of the United States and Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland walk together on the fifth hole during the first round of the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits on August 13, 2015 in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.  (Phot
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Tiger Woods has inspired an era of unprecedented power and physicality on the PGA Tour. There are better athletes than ever playing the game of golf, from Rory McIlroy to Dustin Johnson. These guys have the length off of the tee to absolutely overpower a golf course.

Spieth doesn't have that. So as he gets older, his body isn't as likely to break down like Tiger's has. He is going to be OK if, as he ages, he's not as strong as he once was or if a younger generation comes through a decade from now and changes the style of play once again.

He's going to be OK, no matter what, because he's already figured out how to control the most difficult part of major golf: nerves. 

Spieth told Scott Van Pelt of ESPN his secret for excelling in the biggest moments on the biggest stages:

It seems like whenever the moment gets bigger and my heart is beating faster, I go away from mechanics and I turn to, "How do I calm my heart rate down?" And the way that I do that is by trying to zero in on a target — to aim small, miss small. For me, that actually helps my swing. It helps my putting stroke. It helps everything in my game. It's easier for me to think less about mechanics and more about the mental side, controlling my emotions and really picking a specific target instead of worrying about how my swing looks.

It is remarkable for someone as young as he is, who turned pro less than three years ago, to already have that much of a command over the mental aspect of the game.

We're used to seeing flashes of raw talent or youth-like swagger from golfers Spieth's age—rounds or tournaments that make a splash but then fade away as the golfer goes through growing pains and matures.

But already, the foundation to Spieth's game is so solid it's seemingly unflappable.

Things will not always go as well for Spieth as they have in 2015. There's nothing automatic about the game of golf, even for those who have mastered the most mundane aspects of it.

Spieth will go through slumps, and he'll battle some injuries, and he'll have days, perhaps even years, where nothing seems to go right.

But what Spieth possesses that others don't is a mastery of the mental and technical aspects of golf that will always be there to fall back on. 

Whether he leaves Whistling Straits with the Wanamaker Trophy or not, Spieth's future looks bright—perhaps historically so. That's great news for golf fans and terrible news for his contemporaries. 


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