(The following piece originally published on April 13, 2015.)
JORDAN SPIETH HAS HIS GREEN JACKET. And on this Monday following the Masters, the superlatives about the 21-year-old are piling up as fast as those record 28 birdies he made over four rounds at Augusta National Golf Club.
In the mad rush by everyone to get to know this new phenom and to explain his rapid rise in the sport, there are already many fairly obvious reasons for his early success. There are no real weaknesses in his game. His short game and putting at Augusta and elsewhere have reminded us of the all-time greats. He is intensely committed and competitive. I could go on.
Instead, I will point to one particular thing I read this morning that highlights Spieth's mindset. After all, it's the space between the ears that always seems to separate the great ones from the good ones.
"We kept our head down," Spieth said.
"We stayed focused. The way we did it was, the beginning of the day, I texted Michael (his caddie) this morning and said, 'Michael, I want us to get to 20 under. I want to get to 4 [under]. I want to be focused on that."
In his quest for the Green Jacket, Spieth was not content to idle, to hang on, to just make pars, after three record-setting days at the Masters. He was always out front -- sometimes way out front -- and seemingly never hit the brakes, or even tapped them. Spieth, in setting a target of 20 under, was intent on going where no man had ever gone at Augusta, not even Tiger Woods.
He almost got there, becoming the first player to reach 19 under in the Masters. When it was all over, Spieth tied the tournament record of 18 under set by Woods, winning by four shots. He is the first Masters champion in nearly 40 years to lead wire-to-wire. The last one was Hall of Famer Raymond Floyd.
The world's best players chased Spieth for four days at Augusta. That should have bothered him. I suppose it did, at least a little. But it's telling that it didn't bother him a lot more. And when the challengers closed the gap, or when Spieth stumbled, the young man hit a shot or sank a putt that defied conventional wisdom about major championship golf. He was unshakable.
"I had a lot of moments today that were a little sticky for Jordan," said two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw, a fellow Texan who has mentored Spieth, "but I had never seen anyone handle such situations with such nerve. It is like he knows exactly where he is going."
Now it will be fun to see where Jordan Spieth goes from here.