Paul McGinley looks back on an “outstanding” performance from Jordan Spieth as he emulated Jack Nicklaus in winning three of golf’s four major titles before the age of 24.
Once again at The Open, we’ve seen an absolutely outstanding final day. It was enthralling, with raw competitiveness, raw spirit, raw sport, raw emotion. It had everything. I know we had fantastic and record scores on Saturday, and a 62 from Branden Grace, but Sunday was just as dramatic.
Last year, the way Henrik Stenson played in his shootout with Phil Mickelson was front-foot golf. Today was a different form of golf, it was playing on the back foot.
We all have days playing golf when things are going wrong. But for it to happen and all unravel on the last day of an Open, when you are expected to win and every single thing is going against you – you’ve lost the senses in your hands, you’ve lost the senses in your mind, you are putting badly (normally the best part of your game); everything is going against you.
And to be able to turn it around in those circumstances and finish the way he did, it’s one of the greatest performances that I’ve seen and I don’t say that lightly. It’s one of the best that I’ve seen in any kind of sport. And full credit to Jordan Spieth, that was something special.
In doing my research for this week I’m looking to see what Jordan has been doing, and he’s had three weeks off since he won the Travelers Championship. I came across a little interview that he did in America last week before he left to come over here and he said: “I’ve had three weeks’ break and I’ve watched the golf on TV this week. I can’t wait to go back and compete.”
Compete was the word that he used and that was significant. You talk to Jack Nicklaus and he says ‘I love golf, golf was great, but I didn’t really, really love the game, but I loved to compete’. And I think Jordan is out of the same mould. I think that competitiveness is something that really ignites him and I think he is the best competitor we have in the game of golf.
He’s a really nice guy as well, and it’s been well documented that he has got a sister who has special needs and he talks about that being a big part of who he is. And his humility that we heard there in his speech and that we have seen in his interviews so often; he knows the other side of life and the challenges that other people have in life. I think it makes him a very rounded individual.
But he’s certainly a player with a huge heart and competitiveness. The putt that he holed on the 13th for five and then to follow it up with the tee shot at 14 which he nearly holed, that changed the momentum. That’s the definition right there of momentum and then all of a sudden then he was on a pig’s back and off he went and rode off to victory.
That’s the level of mental fortitude you need to be a real, real champion in this game. We have seen very few guys do it. We have seen Tiger do it, we have seen Jack Nicklaus do it, we are now seeing Jordan Spieth do it. Yes we have had loads of No 1s in between, but that real, real champion, we have seen so rarely. That’s the level.
Tiger Woods raised the standards at so many levels – mentally, physically and technically – and that level is now being continued by Jordan Spieth. And for those guys to jump up and win major championships and dominate, that’s what you’ve got to get to.