Golf can certainly be looked down upon as a sport for athletically inept, rich old men who like to drink beer. But, those are just stereotypes of a sport that is on the brink of what could be one of its most exciting eras in recent history.
Young gun Jordan Spieth has just entered legendary status with his U.S. Open win this Father’s Day. At 21, he is the youngest U.S. Open champion since Bobby Jones in 1923, a remarkable 92-year statistic. Spieth is at just the beginning of what many predict will be a fruitful and possibly historic career.
With the victory on Sunday, Spieth has won the first two legs of the ever-elusive Grand Slam — winning all four major golf tournaments in a calendar year — entering into an elite club of golfers. Only six other men in the history of the game have won the first two legs: Craig Wood, Sam Snead, Ben Hogan (twice), Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and, most recently, Tiger Woods in 2002. Entering a conversation with any of these names is significant enough to define a career, and yet, Spieth is just getting started.
Spieth’s victory at the U.S. Open should not be undermined by the massive collapse that Dustin Johnson had to execute in order to lose the tournament. Golf is not just about one hole, though scores can rapidly change; it is about the 72 holes that go into a week of play and even longer than that in preparation.
Speculation about the Grand Slam came immediately during the trophy presentation interview, and Spieth provided a quotable and humble response simply saying, “You can’t win them all if you don’t win the first two.”
Could Spieth be ushering in a new age of golf along with fellow twenty-something Rory McIlroy? The duo is the most talked about young pair since the faux rivalry between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
This new age is undoubtedly the most exciting era that golf has seen since Father Time has begun to catch up with Mickelson and Woods was involved with his series of off-the-course scandals.
The Open Championship, known as the British Open and the next of golf’s four major tournaments, will be held from July 12-19 at St. Andrews, the home of golf in the U.K. McIlroy is favored heading into the tournament, but that could be purely due to his home-course advantage over the Texan from across the pond.
Viewers will be holding their breath to see how Spieth reacts to a new and unpredictable pressure heading into the back nine of the majors. Will he suffer a relapse and have to wait to finish out the career Grand Slam that many distinguished golfers still lack? Or will he enter the tournament with all the poise and confidence he has exhibited thus far in his career and suddenly turn the PGA Championship into a must watch on his quest for history?
Spieth has breathed new life into a game that desperately needs a savior. Not only is he young enough to capture the attention of fans not yet middle-aged, but he is also American, something to capture the hearts of the United States in a game that has recently seemed dominated by foreigners.
So here’s to hoping that Jordan Spieth can silence the critics and win the Open in July, bringing along with him a new fan base and enthusiasm for a highly underrated sport.
Hailey Tucker is a rising sophomore majoring in broadcast and digital journalism. Her column, “Hangin’ With Hailey,” ran every other Wednesday.