There really has been some nonsense spouted since Jordan Spieth suffered his Masters meltdown but, then again, should we expect anything different in a world where being a top sportsperson can’t be fun in the slightest at times?
We are talking here about a 22-year-old who already has two majors to his name and looks as though he can keep racking up victories for fun, yet since he let that winning position slip at Augusta National all we seem to have heard is the sound of people picking holes in Spieth’s game.
Some are still at it, in fact, even though the Texan has taken just three events to return to winning ways, having claimed an eighth PGA Tour triumph – but first in his home state – with victory in the Dean & DeLuca Invitational (formerly the Colonial) in Fort Worth at the weekend.
His critics say Spieth will struggle when he defends his US Open title in a fortnight’s time due to this year’s venue for the season’s second major, Oakmont, being widely regarded as the toughest course in America.
Sure, Spieth sprayed shots about a bit before finishing three strokes ahead of Harris English on Sunday and had to rely on his scrambling skills, clutch-putting in particular, to get the job done, but that’s the beauty of this young man. Rory McIlroy is a better ball-striker and Jason Day has a more rounded overall game, but Spieth has that silky touch on and around the greens that can have a mesmerising effect and long may that continue.
The so-called “Big Three” are all playing in the Memorial at Muirfield Village this week. Each one of them is coming off victories in their last starts, with Spieth’s success having first been preceded by Day winning the Players Championship at Sawgrass then McIlroy claiming the spoils on home soil in the Irish Open.
Only time will tell which one of those triumphs proves the most significant in terms of 2016 unfolding, but, on the back of what he’s had to put up with since the Masters, it was no surprise surely to hear Spieth really talking up the latest victory in his career.
“No matter what happens in the next 30 years of my career, this will be one of the most important days that I’ve ever had,” he declared. “I wasn’t sure how long it would take to get over the hurdle of having to come into every single interview room, having to listen to crowds only talk about what happened a month ago. It’s very difficult – and I’m 22. It’s not like I hadn’t won. We’ve won two majors. It’s very difficult to stay present, stay positive when that’s happening, when those are the only questions.”
Now Spieth has answered them by showing he is made of stern stuff, let’s stop the unnecessary nit-picking because this kid is a real asset to golf, both on and off the course, and it would be a crying shame if he changed due to being put under a microscope all the time.
As Spieth gears up for his US Open title defence, it truly is hard to believe that a full eight years will soon have elapsed since Tiger Woods won the last of his 14 majors. We were reminded of that as Rocco Mediate, who lost to Woods in a play-off at Torrey Pines in that US Open at Torrey Pines, held off Colin Montgomerie to win the Senior PGA Championship on Sunday. Business-like as ever on the golf course and probably more determined than usual on this occasion as he tried to complete a hat-trick of wins in the over-50s major, Montgomerie couldn’t have found himself playing with more of an opposite than the excitable Mediate in the final round at Benton Harbor in Michigan. The big Scot looked uncomfortable fist bumping on the first tee and had steam coming out of his ears as a couple of his putts shaved the hole while Mediate got very lucky with one that just sneaked in the left edge, matched Montgomerie’s birdie at the 15th then holed from out of bunker for a 2 at the 17th.
In fairness to Montgomerie, though, he was smiling at the finish, having realised this was one of those days that belonged to someone else. “I did nothing wrong,” he said. “Went out and shot 67. All credit to Rocco. He shot 66. His up-and-down game today was brilliant.” Rivalry will be renewed later in the year at Carnoustie in the Senior Open, the week after Day, Spieth and McIlroy lock horns in the Open at Royal Troon.
Yet another sizzling summer of golf awaits in Scotland.