By Jack Yungblut, For The Miami Student
On Sunday afternoon, a Google search of Jordan Spieth returned glowing headlines such as “Spieth in control with Masters victory in sight.” Less than an hour later, they were replaced by “Jordan Spieth on the verge of historic collapse at the Masters.”
Golf’s golden boy posted a quadruple bogey on the par-3 12th hole after finding the water twice. An otherwise perfect weekend was ruined by a single-hole performance reminiscent of one of my rounds at the local public course.
Common folk like you and I would might be able to shave a few strokes off our score and forget about it when the round is finished. Spieth, unfortunately, suffered a Chicago Cubs-level collapse on golf’s greatest stage.
This isn’t a bad thing though.
In possibly the most boring and plain sport in the world, Spieth is not only the best player; he is one of the most boring and plain as well.
A simple glance at his biography tells the story. A former top amateur player and NCAA All-American, he quickly rose through the professional ranks and makes millions of dollars a year.
In a world full of feather-ruffling superstars, he has managed to stay squeaky clean.
Spieth is golf personified. Privileged, white, talented and clean-cut. He’s the cool kid at your high school who drives around the nice car his parents bought him, his cheerleader girlfriend in the passenger seat. Yet, he doesn’t beat up nerds, and he didn’t steal his girlfriend from a freshman. He has it all: athletic, good-looking and talent we plebs can only dream of.
It’s pretty easy to hate the guy, but you can’t. He’s not outspoken and never makes headlines outside of setting records for the history books. It’s like if Johnny Manziel spent free time at the soup kitchen instead of the VIP room in Vegas.
He isn’t Tiger Woods, dropping f-bombs on live television and fist pumping his way through the back nine. Tiger was No. 1, and perhaps the greatest of all time. But he played like your drunken uncle at a family golf outing.
He certainly isn’t John Daly, who also plays as somebody’s drunken uncle and just happens to drive the ball 350 yards onto the fairway.
Spieth needed this. He needed to seem human.
Golf has desperately been looking for a new face since the moment Elin Nordegren bashed Tiger’s back window in with a nine iron.
Spieth, Rory McIlrory and others have tried, but no one has captivated audiences like Tiger or Jack Nicklaus have in the past.
The sport needs a player who brings in the casual fan. Tiger was the type of player who prompted even your mom to come into the room and watch because she knew she was witnessing greatness.
And it wasn’t just greatness, it was someone we all could relate to.
Look at Tom Brady: the guy grew up wealthy and is now one of the best athletes in history, making millions and setting records left and right, all while being married to a super model.
It doesn’t take a genius to recognize greatness, but at a certain point the average person has to ask, “What else can this guy do?”
The same is true with Spieth. Golf fans tune in to witness greatness. He’s the player we’ll tell our kids about when we’re older, but it is almost nice to see him slip up a little.
Sunday was a reminder that the golden boy robot Jordan Spieth is made of the same stuff as the rest of us. His genes are premium while ours are Kroger brand, but they’re genes regardless. Like the rest of us, though, even premium products have flaws.
Unfortunately for Spieth, his great screw-up happened in front of millions of people. We’re lucky that our gaffes happen at the office or in the comfort of our own home.
Spieth will go down as one of the best in history, barring a scandal or complete loss of talent. His goof-up undoubtedly stings, but if it helps at all, he gained at least one fan this weekend.