Jordan Spieth's Masters Win Signifies Bright Future For American Golf
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
Watching 21-year-old Jordan Spieth win the Masters yesterday was to see something more than just a very young golfer win the year's first major golf championship. Spieth shattered records, and he tied an especially impressive one. He was only the second golfer in history to shoot 18 under par over the four days of the Masters. The other to do it was also 21 back in 1997, Tiger Woods. When Spieth walked triumphantly up the fairway to the 18th green on Sunday, you had to wonder, is this the start of a new era for American golf? Ron Sirak is senior writer at Golf Digest. And Ron, how good is Jordan Spieth?
RON SIRAK: Well, he's very good. And he had a lot he had to orive yesterday. He's been in this position before. He had a chance to win the Masters last year and couldn't handle the Sunday pressure. He had a chance to win The Players Championship, another big event, last year and couldn't handle the Sunday pressure. He went out with a sizable lead on Sunday, but he had some from formidable players right on his heels, and he showed that he could handle the pressure. He showed he could handle it. There's every reason to think that this is not going to be his lone major championship.
SIEGEL: Yesterday Spieth was paired with the English golfer, Justin Rose, and Rose seemed to outdrive him consistently off the tee. Spieth isn't as good as he is just because of raw power, in that case.
SIRAK: No, he does not - he doesn't overpower a golf course the way Tiger Woods did - the way Jack Nicklaus did. He outthinks a golf course. He's very, very strategic. He's got a wonderful short game. He can chip and putt with the best of them, and he seems to maintain an even temperament out there, which is really crucial in winning major championships - is to not to lose your composure. He's more of a chess player. He goes from point A to point B to point C around the golf course, and that's really one of the keys to winning at Augusta.
SIEGEL: His win at Augusta made him the second-ranked golfer in the world. The number one is Rory McIlroy from Northern Ireland. How would you compare Spieth and McIlroy?
SIRAK: Well, again, McIlroy is much more of a power player. He can overwhelm a golf course with distance off the tee. But what they have in common is - you know, Tiger Woods was on a pedestal, and we put him there. And he liked being there. These guys - both McIlroy and Spieth - want to be down on the ground. They want to be among the people, and they're very different than Tiger in that regard. And sometimes you wonder whether that might be their weakness. You know, do they have enough of the killer instinct in them? But Jordan showed considerable killer instinct yesterday.
SIEGEL: Do you think we've reached the point where every week American golf fans will ask, how's Spieth doing, the way we've been asking all these years, how's Tiger doing?
SIRAK: Well, you know, if we are getting to the end of the Tiger Woods era - and I'm not sure we are, but I think if we're not there, we're very, very close to it. If we're getting to the end, golf's in very, very good hands right now. McIlroy is 25 years old. Jordan Spieth is 21 years old. The guy who finished fifth, Hideki Matsuyama from Japan, is 23 years old. One of Tiger's legacies is going to be that he attracted a better quality of athlete to the game of golf, and we're seeing that pay off now.
SIEGEL: You said one of the questions is does he want to be on the pedestal where Tiger was - stood for so many years. So far, what's your sense of him? He seems to be a very solid young man. Is he taking the glory of winning the Masters in stride?
SIRAK: He's a very grounded person. He's deeply religious. He has a younger sister who has autism - a special needs child, and she is a big part of his motivation. And I think she's one of the reasons that he's so incredibly mature for a 21-year-old. I think that he's been involved in that situation, and he's always said she's the best thing that ever happened to our family. I don't expect to see him lose his way. I think that his head is as solidly on his shoulders as his golf swing is solid.
SIEGEL: Ron Sirak of Golf Digest, thanks for talking with us.
SIRAK: Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.