Golf's next generation of high-level players is on display at the Wyndham Championship.
As the third round concluded, young stars like John Huh, Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth were at or near the top of the leaderboard. Watching them execute expertly on the rain-softened fairways of Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C., you get the feeling this is a scene that will play out quite often in the years to come.
Spieth, 20, is the youngest of the group—Huh and Reed are both 23—but he appears to have the game to lead them. Spieth may have the game to become the sport's next superstar.
While that could be construed as hyperbole, the facts speak for themselves. Spieth won the John Deere Classic earlier this summer, two weeks prior to his 20th birthday. In doing so, Spieth became the first teenager to win on the PGA Tour in 82 years.
Spieth has been spectacular in his rookie season. While the win at John Deere is his only victory to date, his overall results are striking. Spieth has made the cut 14 times in 19 events this year. He has six top-10 finishes, including a second-place finish in the Puerto Rico Open. Spieth has been in the top 25 eight times, and he has won more than $2 million this season.
Spieth is in a strong position to win his second title at Wyndham, as he is in a group of three golfers trailing Huh and Reed by one stroke.
After his round, Spieth spoke to CBS golf analyst David Feherty about the prospect of winning in his 20s after his achievement of winning as a teenager. "Yes, winning in my 20s is a goal of mine," Spieth joked. "I hope to accomplish that goal tomorrow."
While Spieth has already become a millionaire on the PGA Tour, he has a chance to earn a lot more before the end of the season. In addition to the prize money he will earn in the Wyndham Championship—the winner's share is $954,000—Spieth is going to have a chance to make a strong showing against the game's best in the FedEx Cup playoffs.
He qualified for the playoffs with his victory at the John Deere. That triumph made his decision to turn professional at the expense of his college career at the University of Texas a winning one.
“This is what I was looking at when I was really sitting down and looking at it, at maybe a great year next year,” Spieth told Kevin Oklobzija of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. “Yeah, it’s come out definitely quicker than I expected."
He continued, “But, you know, I have confidence in my game. I love to play with confidence, be aggressive, and that’s just how I’ve always done it. It’s really reassuring that the transition has been kind of easier and quicker than normal.”
Spieth has confidence because he knows he is going to hit the ball accurately more often than not. Spieth finds the fairway with 68.86 percent of his drives, a figure that ranks 20th on the tour.
Spieth is also solid with his irons, as he is reaching 66.13 percent of his greens in regulation, ranking 67th on the tour.
The one area in which Spieth will want to get significantly better is his putting. He ranks 103rd in strokes gained putting, and a move into the top 50 or better will likely turn Spieth into a golfer who can contend in the majors.
No matter what type of statistics Spieth has, he is a strong, confident golfer who believes he has a chance to win.
But he concedes nothing when he is on the golf course, and that's why Spieth appears well on his way to becoming one of the game's next major champions.