State of The Rcok

State of The Rcok
NFL News and Commentary

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Longest Yard - A Masters Story

The Longest Yard
Jordan Spieth and longtime mentor Ben Crenshaw sat down with Brandel Chamblee A few days before the Masters last year.  When asked what it takes to win the masters – Crenshaw raised his hands about a yard apart and declared “These are miss-able at Augusta”. Jordan looks at Ben and lifts his right hand "shhhhh".


Jordan Who?
I discovered Jordan a few years earlier and had been preaching the good news of his coming for some time. He was not old enough to drink and did not even have a PGA card. I had to look up his college stats when I found his name on the bet sheets in Vegas. He was playing on exemptions when he earned them. When I mentioned his name around the course, the response was usually Jordan who? At the John Deer Classic in 2013 – he gave me the thrill of a lifetime. 

It was Sunday morning and he was 6 strokes back. I was about to turn off the TV and go play some golf of my own, when he moved up to 5 back, then 4 then 3. As my chance to get some sun faded, so did his chances to win. The leader was in the clubhouse at (-19). He was on the final hole (-18) and needed to hole a shot from the bunker for birdie to join him and have a chance at a playoff. He did it!

He and his young caddy had been feeling their way around PGA courses - most of which - neither of them had ever seen. as Jordan climbs out of the bunker to shake his caddy's hand - he chest bumps him. Hammerheads - I love this shit! 5 playoff rounds later – he got his first win. I pocketed $900. $30 at 30-1. It was one of most of the most exciting sports victories I ever watched. It wasn’t all about the money though. Our favorite players become like family members we’ve never met. He had become a little brother. That would eventually become the case for millions of golf fans.

Magnolia Lane
Fast forward to April 2014. Tiger’s out. Its Masters week, he’s at 40-1. The media has tried to anoint Jordan as Tiger's successor. But the wins are just not there. He’s got more top 10s than any player on tour, but the pressure for him to close one out is palpable. Interest in him is waning. Most analysts feel he has a decent all-around game but nothing special in any one area and not long enough to become one of the all-time greats. I happen to disagree.  I enjoy handicapping, but I am not a big gambler, I put $100 on him, that’s a lot for me on one player. A $4000 pay off would replace a car that just blew an engine. If he was to pull off a miracle win on his first visit to Augusta, at 20 years of age - I would get custom plates and call it my “Spieth Mobile”.

Giant Killer
Win or not, he had become a giant killer.  Every time they paired him with a big name - he knocked them out in "Rocky" like fashion. Tiger by 8 strokes. Mickelson by 9. Matt Kuchar called him a "little kid" before playing him in match play at the WGC. Spieth sent him home. This week the folks at Golf channel finally caught on and called that the "Spieth factor". Jordan would face a Goliath in Rory McIlroy to begin the Masters. By Friday, Rory too had fallen. 

By the end of the 2nd round on Friday - the cut was top 50 and ties - (4 Over) or better. Almost every Big Name in the Game Missed the Cut, some by 4 or 5 strokes. Approach Shots landing 2 feet from the Pin - had bounced and ran off the greens. This place was for real and it was scary. Rooting for Spieth was like watching your kid play in traffic. This isn't Golf - this is Frogger. How can anyone survive. But survive he did - into the weekend at Augusta. The Spieth Factor continued on Saturday. Jordan took down world #1 Adam Scott.

The Masters Final Round
Its Sunday morning, to my amazement Jordan Spieth is tied for the lead with Bubba Watson at 5 under. As he stepped on the first tee box, I was on the edge of my seat. At 20, I was still pimping beer in front of 7-11 and looking for Kegger parties. Lotta pressure for Jordan at such a young age.

He is boxed in by a thick gallery of spectators and tees it up before he is even announced. The world is watching my boy - Is he gonna hook one into the trees? 

Yes.   The good news - Bubba is in the bunker. Spieth punches one from the trees, it bounces past the pin but rolled back pin high about 16 feet from the hole. Bubba damn near hits the pin and settles about 4 feet inside Jordan. They both miss birdie puts and par. On the par 5 2nd - Bubba almost drains one from the fringe. Jordan has a 10 foot put to take the lead.
Announcer David Feherty - in a high pitched Irish tone, as if he's telling on someone "Oh - he leads The Masters! "After 2 holes in the final round - Jordan Spieth takes the lead - on his own."

And a Child with Lead Them
Bubba misses the green on 3 and pushes his par put left. Spieth pars. Oh My God! Is this really happening? Jordan has a 2 shot lead In the Masters. There was a buzz, an electricity in the air. There was talk of numerology and destiny. Every 17 years, The Masters produced it's youngest winner. The last was in 1997, it was 2014.

A Familiar Miracle
By the 4th hole he's in trouble. Watson sticks his approach within about 4 feet. Jordan is in the green-side bunker. Looks like a 2 shot swing for Bubba. 

Spieth sweeps it up onto the green, it bounces twice, rolling....rolling.... hits the pin -  ITS IN!
Bubba birdies as well. Jordan's still leads by 2. He did that at John Deer!   
Something special is happening here. 

Mr. Watson
Jordan's more Wally than Beaver, but there's just enough Eddie Haskell in him to keep you interested. His habit of calling his elders "Mr." was questioned in an interview the day before the Masters. He was Paired with Bubba Watson for the final on Sunday. Spieth and Watson are friends.

"Do you have an age cut off for calling someone Mr?
"Anyone older than me."
So, you will be calling Bubba Mr. Watson?
"Yes, just because I know it will mess with him."
On the Tee at the 5th. "Nice two Mr. Watson."

Spieth Bogies 5 and Bubba pulls within 1 shot. Watson sticks his approach on the Par 3 6th within 10 feet. Jordan answers by throwing a dart 2 feet from the pin! 

Ruffled Feathers
Spieth looks up at Watson - like a little brother looking for approval. Bubba looks back at Spieth as if to say, "What are you trying to pull? Watson turns away, cocks his shoulders like a rooster and heads for the green with a stern look on his face. They would both Birdie. Spieth holds onto his 1 shot lead.

History in the Making
Bubba misses the green on 7. Spieth drains an 8 foot put for birdie and a 2 shot lead!


Is This Really Happening?
At this point I'm pinching myself. Were talking $4000 here and a chance to see my favorite golfer become a household name. You know that feeling you get - when something you knew was impossible - starts to actually happen?

Watson and Spieth have separated themselves from the field at this point. It has become a 2 man race and Jordan, with a 2 shot lead -shows no signs of cracking.

On the Par 5 8th - Jordan has little more than a tap in for par.

Paradise Lost
No! He misses it! Bogie! Watson Birdies. 2 shot swing.

His lead is gone.


The Longest Yard
On the 9th hole, for the 2nd time that day - a premonition from a well meaning mentor came true. Spieth misses a short put for Bogey. Watson birdies. 4 shot swing. Jordan never recovered. 


I can't even imagine the what was going through Jordan's head after the 9th hole. He just gave away the Masters.


I know what might have been on his mind as he stood over those puts on 8 and 9. "These are miss-able at Augusta”. 

Jordan is currently #1 in the world for puts between 15-25 feet
He still struggles with puts in side 10 feet.

The good news is - that's not the end of the story. 
By the end of 2014 the American media had pretty much written off Jordan Spieth.  All they talked about when his was mentioned was how he didn't win again. He flew to Australia in late November. The Aussies do not get see PGA pros very often. It's a long plane flight. They greeted Jordan with nothing but praise and adulation. He shot the lowest score in the history of the Australian Open that week. Literally destroying all of the best players in Europe.

Rory McIlroy tweeted about his performance: 
"You could give me another 100 rounds today at The Australian and I wouldn't sniff 63.... Well done @JordanSpieth very impressive!  

When he finished his round in Australia - he jumped on a plane for a 20 hour flight. Went to Tigers Hero tournament that very next weekend. He destroyed the best players in the United States by 10 shots. 

He took some time off. Won 3 weeks ago at Valspar. He placed 2nd the last 2 weeks. He tees it up again Thursday at the Masters.

As far as the "Spieth -Mobile" -  it's not a matter of "if" but "when".

This story isn't over yet.

Spieth went on to win The Masters in 2015. During the 2014-2015 seasons I made over $6000 betting on Jordan.

I never bought The Spieth Mobile, but a talented young lady got oral surgery and a new set of teeth. 

Thank You Jordan!

- Rick Jansen


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