Why Jordan Spieth is the most relatable (and likable) superstar in golf

jordan spieth at 2020 pga championship
Jordan Spieth, pictured at Harding Park this week, hasn’t won since the 2017 British Open at Birkdale.

I have been rooting for Jordan Spieth since before he turned pro, and will be rooting for him this week, at the PGA Championship at Harding Park. I’m drawn to his honesty, his intelligence, his memory, the way he interacts with his family, fans, reporters, fellow players, the wacky things he does on the golf course, his light steps in deep rough.

He’s 27 and he already has three majors: the 2015 Masters, the 2015 U.S. Open and the 2017 British Open. If he wins this week, he becomes the sixth: Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods. You may know that when Sarazen did it, there was no catchy name for the feat, but now there of course is: the career Grand Slam.

At last year’s PGA — in May, at Bethpage Black — Spieth finished in a tie for 3rd, miles behind the winner Brooks Koepka. A fellow reporter and golf nut, Jeffrey Toobin, and I followed Spieth there, up and down the Bethpage hills, with Spieth’s teacher, Cameron McCormick, at times a chip shot away and looking worried. Jeff was there on a busman’s holiday. His main beat is the Supreme Court and national politics. (When he arrived at a club for a game a while back, a club employee recognized him and said with notable nonchalance, “Slow news day?”) Jeff, like me, is a Spieth-o-phile.

I asked Jeff the other day what it is about Spieth he liked so much. He said, “I love watching him because he doesn’t just talk to himself and his golf ball but because he seems to have intelligent conversations with both.”

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