Golf: British Open

Spieth enjoys himself despite poor round

July, 20, 2013
Jordan Spieth created a stir last weekend by becoming the youngest PGA Tour winner in 82 years.

But he's smart enough to know there's plenty left to learn.

The 19-year-old hobbled to a 5-over 76 Saturday, hurt by bad bounces and worse decisions.

Ron Sirak joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Ted Emrich live from the Open Championship to discuss local star Jordan Spieth.

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"I wasn't patient, and that was the issue," he said. "Bad bounces are going to happen out here, but I could have shot three shots lower without even playing any different."

Despite being 6-over for the tournament, Spieth enjoyed himself, in part because he played alongside Northern Irishman and major winner Darren Clarke.

"He's obviously loved, and I can see why. Extremely nice guy, he's very selfless, he's rooting for me. It was cool," Spieth said.

Despite a full schedule since March and the pressures of being in contention the previous three weekends, Spieth said he didn't think fatigue was a factor in his performance here. That said, he wasn't unhappy about taking time off after the Open.

"Yeah," Spieth acknowledged, "I'm looking forward to it."

Spieth showed this potential in high school

July, 14, 2013
There weren't many signs on Sunday that Dallas' Jordan Spieth is still a teenager. Heck, there haven't been too many signs of that since he burst onto the PGA Tour as a 16-year-old amateur at the HP Byron Nelson Championship, his hometown tournament, a few years back.

Even then, I remember marveling at how you had to really pay attention to realize that the kid was, well, a kid. He didn't talk like someone who was merely happy to be playing with golfers that he idolized growing up. He said he wanted to win, and it didn't really come off as brash. Why? Because he had the game to back it up. And he wasn't saying it as if it was some pie-in-the-sky proclamation. He really believed it.

He made me a believer in that 2010 Nelson. There he was, within range of the leaders as he started the back nine, only to falter and end up tied for 16th. But it was the way he handled himself amid what should have been huge pressure that has me sitting here, more than three years later, surprised but not stunned that he's a PGA Tour champion.

The 19-year-old won the John Deere Classic on Sunday with some tremendous shots and a little luck, too. But it wasn't as if this came out of nowhere; he's been in contention several times this season. On Sunday, he holed a bunker shot that looked destined for the water on No. 18 just to make the playoff, and he admitted that the shot didn't have any spin. He just got lucky. He then watched as David Hearn missed about a 4-footer to win on the fourth playoff hole. Finally, Spieth struck. He hit a great approach shot as Hearn and Zach Johnson faltered. A tap-in par secured his victory. It's a big one for a bunch of reasons. He now has full status on the PGA Tour. He earned himself a spot in the British Open. And he's in the top 12 of the FedEx Cup rankings.

It was historic, too. He's the first teenager to win on the PGA Tour in 82 years. Yep. It's been that long. Ralph Guldahl in 1931 was the last one. Herbert Hoover was in the White House. The United States has gone through 13 presidents since then.

Spieth does look different three years after his debut. He's stronger physically. Maybe mentally, too, though I saw a tough-minded teenager as I walked just about every hole of his four rounds with him back in 2010. The loose golf shirt and not-quite-perfectly-fit pants have been replaced with an Under Armour logo and a fashion that makes him look like he belongs. Of course, his game is proof of that.

Spieth did something few expected when the season began, opting to play in a few early sponsors exemptions on the PGA Tour (after deciding to leave the University of Texas after his freshman year to turn pro). In doing so, he was electing to use some of his limited exemptions, instead of going to Q-school or teeing it up on the Tour to try to qualify for the PGA Tour either of those ways. It was risky in that if he didn't play well enough quickly enough, he was giving away chances to earn money and work his way up the money list.

But Spieth did play well. Instead of the minimum seven exemptions, Spieth was able to secure more because of how well he played. Even before that putt on the fifth playoff hole on Sunday, Spieth was on his way to earning enough to be in the top 125 on the money list on the PGA Tour and get his card for next season. Now, of course, he doesn't have to worry about any of that.

Does this win mean Spieth is the game's next great young player? Too soon to tell, but don't be fooled by his age. Back in 2010, I saw a young man who was not in awe of his surroundings despite thousands of classmates, friends and family watching him -- and before he had to get back to school to finish some tests. He was only a junior at Jesuit College Prep then, but he played and acted like he knew he belonged out there. He never had any doubts.

He didn't look like he had any on Sunday at the John Deere Classic, either. Spieth learned some lessons from being in contention at various points this season. He learned from his lone year of NCAA golf. He attacked the hole and birdied five of his final six holes, getting into the playoffs when Johnson bogeyed the 18th. Spieth knew he had a huge opportunity, and he took advantage of it, much like he did in Dallas three years ago.

It's a mature young man who boards that flight overseas to play in a tournament that he didn't even have time to pack for. It's a major. Just don't expect Spieth to be intimidated by any of it. He's not flying over there to simply see what the British Open is all about. He's going over there to win. I suspect major victories are in his future -- the near future.

First round nearly complete at Open qualfier

May, 21, 2012
PLANO, Texas -- Most of the more than 70 golfers that teed it up Monday at Gleneagles Country Club are finished or at least close to finishing their first 18 holes of this 36-hole British Open qualifier.

Tommy Gainey and Michael Thompson are co-leaders in the clubhouse after firing 64s. They are both quickly eating lunch before heading back out for their second rounds.

Denton's Kelly Kraft, who won the U.S. Amateur Championship last summer, is still on the course and is at 6-under par along with Harris English.

We'll keep you posted as players try to earn a spot in the British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in July.

The complete scoreboard is here.

Early British Open qualifier wake-up call

May, 21, 2012
IRVING, Texas -- Robert Garrigus hopes to carry momentum from a closing-round 66 at the Byron Nelson to Monday’s British Open qualifier at Plano’s Gleneagles Country Club.

Garrigus, playing in his seventh Nelson, tied for ninth at 5-under, his best finish.

“I’m going off first at 7 a.m., and I’m not looking forward to a 5 a.m. wake-up call,’’ Garrigus said.

With only eight advancing from a field of 78, Garrigus said it wouldn’t take a ridiculously low round to qualify.

“Five- to eight-under usually gets in,’’ the resident of Scottsdale, Ariz., said. “I love the course. It is a lot like this one [TPC Four Seasons] in that the wind can blow 30 mph, but they set it up pretty fair.’’

Garrigus said he always held the British Open in high regard, playing in the event for the first time in 2011, and failing to make the 36-hole cut.