Jordan Spieth is a three-time major winner and won the FedEx Cup in 2015, as well as the PGA Tour Player of the Year in the same calendar year. That’s wasn’t bad for a 22-year-old.
And yet, arguably, one of Spieth’s most defining moments was at Augusta in 2016. Having already won the Masters there the year before, his incredible implosion – where he shot a quadruple bogey at the 12th hole in the final round on Sunday, thus surrendering his lead and allowing unfancied Englishman Danny Willett to don the famous Green Jacket – Spieth has been battling back to challenge at the biggest events in golf.
Since this meltdown, the Texan has quoted Teddy Roosevelt’s ‘The Man in the Arena’ as one of the inspirations which has helped him regain his mental strength, and belief in his own ability.
A self-confessed “nerd” of the game, Spieth reveals to RSNG that he thinks outside the box when preparing for tournaments – even when he is lying in bed watching television…
RSNG I hear that you like to go out in disguise when you’re out in public. Is that true?
JORDAN SPIETH, PGA GOLFER ‘Haha! It’s a strange one – I do like privacy and sometimes it’s actually easier to don a fake moustache or a full hood and sunglasses than it is to expose yourself to whatever is out there.’
‘That’s not to say I don’t want to mingle with fans, or I’m not thrilled to meet people and share this great love of golf and sport, but I think we all have days where, absolutely, we just want to hide behind something and not talk too much.’
‘I remember thinking that when those self-service checkouts started coming into popularity. I started wondering how far you could make it through a day without having to actually converse with a real person?’
‘You’ve got everything these days powered by technology and that can be operated on your phone… and yet the irony is you’re not using your phone to speak to someone – it’s pretty much everything else besides!’
‘The battle in golf is often with yourself – so much of what it is to be a golfer is conquering what’s inside’
RSNG How much do you go in for the USA vs Europe rivalry?
JS ‘I think it’s one of those rivalries that really moves up a level around the Ryder Cup, for obvious reasons. Outside of that it’s not something the players take too seriously or play off.’
‘The friendship around the course is usually there for all to see. The battle in golf is often with yourself, so while there are certain players you like to get the better of, so much of what it is to be a golfer is conquering what’s inside.’
RSNG Who do you have the best relationship with?
JS ‘A few of us hang about – you tend to migrate to those players of your age bracket and background. Ricky Fowler is obviously someone very like me and I can relate as well to the way he plays the game and everything that goes with it off the course – the social aspect, the marketing, the media. We like to have fun but we know there is a responsibility in what we do.’
RSNG You played golf with Tom Brady at Augusta – how did that go?
JS ‘Yeah, it was pretty good. We had a twosomes match and it was pretty close going to the 18th. Tom drove the ball almost too close to the green and then tried to play a flop shot, but unfortunately for him he didn’t get it quite right and the ball ended up in the bunker.’
‘At that point, the game was actually tied, and I had a birdie putt to win. Tom could only make bogey and we won by two shots, and there is a thing at Augusta when you have finished your round and you go into the clubhouse after being changed.
‘You are supposed to go in, have some lunch, have a good conversation – obviously talk about your game, your match and then you can move onto other things.’
‘But Tom… Tom didn’t speak to me for almost the entire time that we were there. I thought that I was competitive – and believe me, I am. But Tom Brady… wow. He is the most competitive person that I have ever met.’
RSNG Of all of the golfers to have picked up a club and played professionally in history only 52 have ever donned the famous Green Jacket for winning the Masters at Augusta. When you think about what a small percentage that is and then realise the fact that you won it at the age of 21… how does that make you feel?
JS ‘Wow. That is something to think about, isn’t it? Well, when I was growing up The Masters was my favourite tournament and now that I have become a professional, it is still my most-preferred event – so, nothing has changed there.’
‘The crazy thing was that I could have even won it earlier, because I went so close to victory there 12 months before. I got off to an okay start in 2014 and after two rounds, I was lying third, but Bubba has raced clear and was a few shots clear.’
‘On the Saturday, he had a bit of an off-day and by the end of the day’s play, we were tied at the top of the leaderboard, even though I had only played okay golf. But on Sunday, he won pretty comfortably, and I thought it was a missed opportunity. In all reality, I was just 20 years old and it was going to stand me in good stead for the future.’
‘Just a year later, I made a hot start and this time I was able to hold things together and it was so incredible, such an incredible feeling to win it. When you play Augusta, you are playing against the golf course, and in 2015, I won at 18 shots under par.’
‘I am an absolute nerd when it comes to golf, probably because I love it so much’
RSNG Just going back to the very famous – and for you the very brutal – 2016 Masters. How do you get yourself going again mentally after such an eventful tournament like that one?
JS ‘During it, there was such anger and frustration at what was happening and once it was over and done with and I couldn’t do anything about it anymore, there came this absolute refusal of me wanting to go through anything like that, ever again in my career.’
‘It had such an effect on me that it dictated my mood between the end of The Masters in 2016, the end of the calendar and I would even go as far as saying that I would even have been feeling the after-effects as long as right through the off-season and right up to the beginning of 2017 – it was that volcanic.’
‘I was almost treated differently by people just because of that tournament – although, obviously the 2016 British Open must have also been in the forefront of their mind, as well.’
‘Say I was going into the grocery store and people were saying: “Hello,” to me, they were almost changing their approach when they spoke to me from: “Hey, you’re going to win the Masters this year,” to “Congratulations on winning The Masters.” That was different because of the way I finished in the position I did, not because of the position I finished in.’
‘What helped me a lot was The Man in the Arena quote from Teddy Roosevelt which basically says that it’s not the critics or the ones who point out what the man should have done better, but the man himself who fails and gets back up again. That was the thing which freed me up to believe in what I was already voicing.’
RSNG Your dad was a baseball player, were you at any point going to follow him into that sport?
JS ‘I remember when I told him that I was going to choose golf over baseball, it was a very tricky time and a tough bit of news to break to my dad. Even more so because when I did tell him, I was only about 12 or 13 years at the time. I told him that I wanted to go into golf and also do a bit of basketball, as well!’
RSNG So, you’re a student of the game in the way that you are constantly studying golf all of the time, aren’t you?
JS ‘Yeah, I am an absolute nerd when it comes to golf, probably because I love it so much. It goes as far as me just sitting in bed watching TV and it will be maybe a couple of days before the start of a tournament and instead of just taking advantage of the downtime, I will be thinking about preparation for that particular course.’
‘I am literally always thinking about golf and that’s probably because, as I said, I love the game of golf a lot, but also because I want to give myself the best chance of winning every tournament and event that I am entered into.’
‘However, that isn’t just me thinking about it and how I want to be mentally prepared going into the week. I go as far as analysing each shot in my mind and I will put myself in a particular situation and decide how I will try and get out of that – be it a straightforward approach shot or a tricky lie that I have left myself in due to elements from the previous shot.’
‘This means evaluation of any possible variables which could genuinely or realistically be thrown up by the conditions. So, ball speed, ball flight, club speed, amount of backswing, lie of the ball – maybe on an upslope or downslope, the amount of green or landing area I have to play with, any wind, air pressure etc.’
‘All of those things will come into play. I am always trying to prepare in the right way.’
WHAT NEXT? Check out Jordan Spieth talking a good game, but is his golf ball listening?
If you want to read more RSNG golf content then try our exclusive interview with basketball G.O.A.T. Micheal Jordan