Home' Australian Golf Digest : November 2017 Contents The Golf Life Opinion by Steve Keipert
F YOU’RE fortunate enough to
be in Sydney this month for the
Australian Open, I contend you can
save shots in your own game by watching
Jordan Spieth at work.
The defending champion owns a grit
factor that no other current player has
[see “Where Jordan Spieth is showing true
greatness”, page 128]. And whereas we
everyday golfers might marvel at the raw
power of Jason Day and the elegant force
of Adam Scott and think it impossible to
emulate, Spieth’s shrewdness can very much
Two years ago, I had the always-enjoyable
experience of being seated at the same table
as Geoff Ogilvy at the annual Australian
Golf Writers Association dinner, held
by tradition on the Saturday night of
the Australian Open. Ogilvy had played
alongside Spieth for the first two rounds
of that Open and, as usual, Jordan’s game
appeared scratchy in every place except the
scorecard. I asked Ogilvy what it was about
Spieth’s game that makes him so resilient.
The 2006 US Open champion didn’t need
to ponder his answer; he knew it already.
“Whatever score he shoots, it’s always the best
score he could have shot,” came the typically
succinct-yet-detail-rich Ogilvy reply.
A day later, Spieth came within a Matt
Jones lip-in on the 72nd green of possibly
winning the central leg of a Stonehaven
treble, despite not exhibiting any where near
the fireworks of his scintillating 2015 global
campaign. The fact he was still in the mix at
the end was the more remarkable feat.
It’s the intangible every golfer craves:
the ability to find a way to contend with
less than your best. Spieth is proof that,
even in what is a power-laden game at the
professional level, sometimes in golf the
mouse can eat the cat.
As we watched during the closing stages
of the British Open this year, Spieth is
never out of the game even when you’re
certain he is. He has the uncanny knack of
conjuring the unthinkable right when you
think he’s toast. He even appears to thrive
on the Houdini-esque nature of the theatre
he conjures. It’s a quality that seems to be
gifted rather than created; you either have
it or you don’t , right? Maybe. But there’s
something gratifying about stealing a birdie
or par that really shouldn’t have been.
Like many followers of Fox Sports’
coverage of the US PGA Tour, I first watched
Spieth when he impressed as a 16-year-
old amateur at the 2010 Byron Nelson
Championship. He finished 16th that week,
a result I had to look up. What I don’t have
to venture online to retrieve, however, is
the memory of an outrageous greenside
flop shot Spieth holed along the way. It was
the first illustration in an endless gallery of
artful escape acts.
In the past seven years I have grown
to admire the Texan and his guile partly
because he plays a (vastly) better version of
my game. I learned by playing a super-tight
golf course and didn’t really grow physically
swing to match and had to be clever with
a wedge and putter in order to compete.
My game today is in dire need of some
dedicated practice time, but some of those
traits remain. My attitude has long been
that golf shots increase in value the closer
to the hole you are, and I’ve always drawn a
certain pleasure from beating other golfers
by playing ‘ugly’ – s craping and scratching
pars that never looked like being pars.
Recently I played a round with some
friends where I came to the last hole with
the match on the line. A lengthy uphill par
5, the hole wasn’t really in my ‘wheelhouse’,
a situation exacerbated when I hit a horrible
short hook off the tee that finished on a
grassy bank. Two swings later, my ball was
in a bunker 50 metres short of the green –
never a good shot to face – while my mates
were comfortably aboard the green in
three. From there I hit the kind of shot TV
producers drool over: a hot, spinning splash
that landed a pace or two past the flag,
hopped forward and spun back about 15 feet,
entering the cup at perfect holing speed.
I smiled, and I bet Spieth would have too
had he seen the shot – and the way I’d played
the hole. So get along to The Australian Golf
Club this month and hope that some of the
young American’s tenacity rubs off on you.
Your opponents will hate you for it.
‘Spieth is proof that even in a power-laden game,
sometimes in golf the mouse can eat the cat.’
How Spieth exploits
the game in a way all
of us can, too
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