Bryan Altman, CBS Local Sports
For many casual golf fans who tuned into the Masters this weekend and saw a fresh-faced 21-year-old kid from Dallas, Texas on top of the leaderboard, shock might have been their initial reaction. But for anyone who has followed Jordan Spieth’s career since he burst onto the PGA tour two years ago, his performance this past weekend was anything but shocking.
It was more or less expected by most of the golf community, including many of CBS’s premier golf analysts that were at Augusta as Spieth’s sublime performance began to take shape.
Before the 2014 Masters last year, CBS Sports’ top golf analysts sat down with CBS Local Sports and discussed Spieth’s seemingly limitless potential in an episode of Golf Fan Essentials.
“I saw Jordan Spieth play in the Byron Nelson four years ago and I thought he was the best young player I’ve seen since Tiger Woods,” said CBS’s David Feherty.
Feherty was referring to the HP Byron Nelson Championship, a tournament that hadn’t granted an amateur exemption since 1995. Spieth, then 16, was given the exemption, but just playing in the tournament wasn’t enough for him. He made the cut and finished the event tied for 16th place – fitting, considering his age at the time. His performance that weekend made him one of the youngest players in the games history to make the cut at a PGA Tour event.
Once Spieth finally decided to turn pro three years later, he continued his astonishing play and garnered high praise for it from Jim Nantz.
“It was the best performance by a 19-year-old professional the game has ever known, it was that strong,” Nantz said of Spieth’s season before the 2014 Masters. “Jordan Spieth did things we have not seen in 80 years with this game.
Aside from Nantz and Feherty, Ian Baker-Finch also stated that he thinks Spieth is here to stay and hinted that Spieth might be golf’s next young phenom.
“Jordan Spieth has proved to us very very quickly that he’s the real deal,” Ian Baker-Finch told CBS Local Sports in 2014. “He’s just 20 years of age, born in July, 1993. Amazing. I mean when Tiger had his first win he was just three years of age.”
One of the most impressive attributes that Spieth has exhibited has been his ability to thrive in the face of pressure. Pressure like, sleeping on a lead heading into Sunday at the Masters and not letting anyone within three strokes of you all day. For a professional golfer, having a strong swing is important, but being mentally strong is just as vital.
“He’s fearless,” CBS’s Peter Kostis said before the 2014 Masters. “He has the heart of a competitor and more importantly he has the stomach of a competitor so I look for more lofty things from Jordan Spieth”
The 2015 Masters victory is looking more and more like a stepping stone to even greater accomplishments for Spieth rather than the pinnacle of his career. He’s still just 21 and will remain one of the brightest young stars in the game of golf for a long time to come.
He’s just going forward, and he’s competitive, CBS’s Gary McCord said. “And he looks like he’s got tools. A lot of tools. And when you’ve got that and at 20 you’ve already proven yourself to this level, Woo.”