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4:42PM

Jordan Spieth fills the room

By Art Spander

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — The room, the interview room for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, had been chock-a-block full. Then Jordan Spieth was finished, and even though another major champion was ready to sit down, most of the media also were finished. Jason Day, the new guy, only shrugged at what at best was disregard and at worst an insult.

But first Day showed he had a sense of humor. “I think Jake Owen pulled most of those people in here,” said Day about Spieth’s amateur partner, the country and western singer — and two handicap golfer. Then after a pause, Day added a rhetorical, “Didn’t he?”

Certain performers, athletes, entertainers and politicians have the “it factor," charisma, a quality that, well, fills rooms, TV screens, front pages and their bank accounts. Not that Jason Day, one of the top three in the World Golf Rankings, hasn’t made the big bucks. What he and many others haven’t made is the big splash.

Arnold Palmer was the first and perhaps still the most memorable. Arnie was just a guy who liked people and could hit a ball a mile. And that’s what golf needed, still needs, because golf has no team loyalty.

Thousands of people can make birdies. Arnie made us pay attention, pay homage. So did Jack Nicklaus. And certainly Tiger Woods. And now Jordan Spieth.

And if Spieth isn't yet Tiger as far as history — Woods has more wins than anybody besides Sam Snead, more majors than anybody besides Nicklaus — or in personality, Jordan is heading in the right direction as far as results. His personality always has been sunnier than Tiger's.

Two majors in 2015 for Spieth, seven victories before age 25. But no less important, confidence without a scintilla of arrogance and an ability to give long, thoughtful answers to questions, a rare virtue in a hurried, impatient world.

“It doesn’t worry me,” said Day of the people fleeing before his interview. “It just needs, it just shows I need to work harder, and hopefully a couple more people will fill the room after that.” Unfortunately, it’s not so easy. Or understandable.

A star isn’t always born or developed. The progression begins with talent. Lady Gaga’s rendition of the Star Spangled Banner to open the Super Bowl was an event unto itself. She already had a reputation, a career, then left us with a memory. Perfect timing, the biggest event of any year in the United States and wham, she left us gasping. Wow.

As did Spieth, already heading toward greatness by becoming only the third in a half-century, next to Arnie and Jack, to start the year with wins in both the Masters and the U.S. Open. He gave the Grand Slam a run, just missing a playoff in the British. Wow.

We used to call Tiger “The Man.” Spieth, then, is “The Man II.” Although he appears embarrassed by the comparison. To Spieth, at 22, fundamentally half as old as the 40-year-old Tiger, Woods is an inspiration, not an association.

His climb into the No. 1 place in the rankings, a position long held by Woods and more recently by Rory McIlroy and Day, is seen by Spieth as an opportunity rather than verification.

It isn’t “Hey, look at me,” it’s “You know what I’ve been able to do?”

Such as play against Woods, and even shoot 63 on the North Course at Torrey Pines, in 2014. Such as being introduced to one man he long has admired from his hometown Dallas Mavericks, Dirk Nowitzki.

“I grew up living half a mile from him,” said Spieth of the 2007 NBA most valuable player, “and he was my hero growing up in Dallas. I never met him. The other day I got to take pictures and hang out with him. And I thought that was pretty awesome. I wouldn’t say that’s probably an advantage to the position we’re in, but with (the No.1 ranking) it becomes a responsibility for sure.”

The key in life, we’re told, is to take your job and responsibilities seriously, but not yourself. Spieth has full comprehension. He can needle and joke with others, unworried what they might say in response.

Owen, the singer, sitting next to Spieth, said Colt Knost, another Texas pro — and winner of the 2007 U.S. Amateur at San Francisco’s Olympic Club — told him, “When Jordan talks to the ball, the ball listens to him.”

In Singapore, Spieth hits a ball to the edge of a bunker, yells, “Just give me a normal bounce,” and the shot ends up in the middle of the fairway. “That’s a normal bounce?” questioned Owen.

Nothing’s normal for Jordan Spieth. “But you haven’t changed in the four years I’ve known you,” said Owen to Spieth, “as far as your graciousness to the people around you and the way you handle yourself ... I really admire that.”

Who wouldn’t?

7:29AM

Bleacher Report: Jordan Spieth's Incredible Consistency in Majors Not Seen Since Jack Nicklaus

By Art Spander
Featured Columnist

HAVEN, Wis. — He’s the best in the world now, at least in the rankings.

No, Jordan Spieth didn’t win the PGA Championship, but he finished second. This after wins in the Masters and U.S. Open and after missing the playoff in the British Open by a single shot. It was a record-breaking year in which he finished with the lowest cumulative score for all four majors in a single season at 54 under par.

Read the full story here.

Copyright © 2015 Bleacher Report, Inc. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

10:33PM

Bleacher Report: Jordan Spieth's Blistering Back 9 Has Him on Verge of Historic 3rd Major of Year

By Art Spander
Featured Columnist

HAVEN,  Wis. — The man is confident, and he has every right to be. This has been Jordan Spieth’s year, his breakthrough, his star-turn. He won the Masters in record-breaking fashion, won the U.S. Open and fell one shot short in the British Open.

And now, he has a wonderful chance to take the final major of 2015, the PGA Championship. Three out of four in a calendar year is a feat accomplished only by the immortal Ben Hogan in 1953 and prime Tiger Woods in 2000.

Read the full story here.

Copyright © 2015 Bleacher Report, Inc. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

5:06PM

Bleacher Report: Jordan Spieth Will Look Back on the 2015 British Open as the 1 That Got Away

By Art Spander
Featured Columnist

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland — He was a stroke short, one swing of the 274 Jordan Spieth needed over the five days and four rounds of the British Open. This is the game of golf, a heartbreaker, because of one swing.

Three in a row, the first three majors of any year. Ben Hogan did it, won the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open in 1953. And nobody has done it since, and it's likely nobody will do it. Ever.

Read the full story here.

Copyright © 2015 Bleacher Report, Inc. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 

6:55PM

S.F. Examiner: Slam quest doesn’t rattle Spieth

By Art Spander
San Francisco Examiner

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland — Let us be the doubters, the ones who keep reminding Jordan Spieth what he’s trying to accomplish. We’ll tell him this has been done only once in the long history of golf, by the great Ben Hogan, and that it borders between improbable and unlikely — if not somewhere around impossible.

Spieth is a man apart, and man is the proper identification, not because he has reached his majority, age 21, but because he accepts the task at hand: winning a third straight major championship this year — and, lordy, maybe even a fourth — with an almost unreal zealousness.

Read the full story here.

©2015 The San Francisco Examiner

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