GULLANE, Scotland – Jordan Spieth has a problem that would be a major irritation to most teenagers: His cellphone keeps cutting out on him since he arrived in Scotland.
Honestly, my service plan is not working too hot over here, Spieth said Tuesday, strolling slowly toward the lunch tent at Muirfield.
But Spieth isnt like most teens.
This past weekend, the 19-year-old from Texas became the youngest PGA Tour winner in 82 years. Within hours, he was on a charter flight across the Atlantic, where hell play in his first British Open beginning Thursday. And, thanks to that spotty phone service, he hasnt been able to spend too much time dwelling on his grueling, landmark victory in the John Deere Classic.
Thats not a bad thing, either.
Its interesting not being able to watch any of it, to not be able to see some of the responses I would normally want to see afterward, Spieth said. I can refocus, think of it as just another week. I can reflect on (the John Deere win) more after this week. But today, I had to turn my attention here, because its one of the biggest weeks of the year.
Seems as though hell handle the pressure just fine.
Spieth turned pro after just one season at the University of Texas, intent on earning his Tour card even though he didnt have status on any circuit. His agent promised to line up at least seven events through exemptions, perhaps enough to earn a few playing chances and give him a realistic shot at earning his card for 2014.
Instead, Spieth has already played in 16 tournaments, finishing in the top 10 five times before his breakthrough victory in Americas heartland.
It didnt come easy. He needed what will surely be remembered as one of the shots of the year – holing out from a greenside bunker on the 72nd hole for a birdie that pushed him into a three-man playoff. Then, on the fifth extra hole, Spieth finally finished off David Heard and Zach Johnson.
The most immediate benefit was earning a spot at Muirfield. But theres all sorts of perks that came along with the win, including a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a spot in next years Masters, and a chance to play in the season-ending FedEx Cup playoff after he soared to No. 11 in the standings.
I never would have expected this at the start of the year, Spieth said, still sounding as though it hasnt sunk in just yet. I just wanted to get my Tour card for next year. To play in the Tour Championship would be unbelievable, to be one of those 30 guys. Theres still a long ways to go.
Some of his fellow players realized he had plenty of game even before he began playing regularly on Tour. Phil Mickelson, who started getting noticed while still in college as well, is already looking forward to the day when Spieth is playing for the U.S. team in events such as the Ryder Cup.
Now that he doesnt have to fret about whether a tournament will invite him to play, he can set his goals much higher.
Hes not dependent on sponsor exemptions, Mickelson said. It allows him to start thriving on the PGA Tour, rather than having to worry about week to week. And I love his game. I love everything about it. Its not about pretty. Its not about making the most perfect swing. Its about hitting shots. And thats what he did under pressure.