KOD: Spieth, Spring FB (UT and OU), Quidditch

The Kiss of Death spans the UT sports globe this Monday - from Jordan Spieth to spring football (in Austin and Norman) to UT baseball (all hope is not lost) to Texas golf and even Quidditch!!

#1 ... The future of golf should be an incredible rivalry between former Longhorns' national champ Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy.

With Spieth, the world's No. 2 golfer as of Monday, openly saying he wants to be No. 1, he has thrown down the challenge to Rory, the world's No. 1.


#2 ... Austin becomes the new home of the Dell World Championship Golf-Match Play (formerly sponsored by Accenture) next March 21-27 at Austin Country Club (which is being redone right now).

Would be great to see Spieth and McIlroy go at it in heart of Longhorn country.


#3 ... After winning The Masters, the Madison Avenue projections for Spieth in terms of off-the-course endorsement money is expected to surpass $20 million in 2015 because he has the things advertisers love:

* Credibility - He's stacking up top performances - 4 wins, 8 Top 10 finishes in the last 12 months alone.

* Likeability - He's polite, respectful, shows some personality on the course, great smile, etc.

* Anticipated Staying Power - He's a goal-setter. He set out to win The Masters as a 14-year-old and now wants to be No. 1 and wants to win multiple majors.

* Masters Champion - Let's be honest, the green jacket = green in your bank account because it is the most coveted of the major titles in golf. 

Golfers are traditionally among the highest-paid among sports' endorsement earners. The Big Four - Tiger, Phil, Rory and Arnold Palmer - earn between $40 million and $55 million per year, according to reports. Spieth is expected to surpass No. 5 Jack Nicklaus, who earned roughly $22 million last year in endorsements.


#4 ... Longevity,  in terms of having a career like Tiger or Phil, is the million-dollar question for Spieth?

But the way sets goals and is able to focus, it feels like he has it. 


#5 ... Putting is the best barometer of a golfer's focus and confidence, in my opinion.

And Spieth is No. 1 on the PGA Tour in putts per round (27.47). He's not a good putter, he's a great putter (remind anyone of another Longhorn golfer who won The Masters?). When Tiger ruled golf for a decade, he made every big putt. Kind of like the 10-footer Spieth made on 18 on Saturday to save par after a double-bogey on 17.


#6 ... I've been pointing out players on the current roster who need to pick it up to stave off an incoming freshman from taking his job in fall camp. Let me add junior OG Kent Perkins to the list.

There's a lot to like about the measurables of Perkins (6-5, 320). He's big and strong and when he gets his hands on you, you're in trouble. But Perkins gave out mentally last year, and his effort dropped in tough times instead improving. That was noted. And if Patrick Vahe isn't totally comfortable at center as a freshman, he could very well be in a position battle with Perkins at right guard.

Right now, JUCO transfer Brandon Hodges is challenging Sed Flowers at left guard. And Connor Williams is pushing Marcus Hutchins at LT (maybe pushing past Hutchins), and Tristan Nickelson is pushing for playing time at RT.

No job on the line is safe. Not under Joe Wickline. That means Perkins as well.


#7 ... Oklahoma had its spring game over the weekend.

This may not end up meaning much, but QB Baker Mayfield (who I've projected as OU's next starting QB since last year) didn't look nearly as comfortable in the new offense of Lincoln Riley as he did last year in the spring game under Josh Heupel/Jay Norvell.

Last spring, Mayfield looked totally in control while going 9-of-9 passing. This spring, Mayfield threw two INTs - FWIW.


#8 ... Texas' pitching just isn't anywhere close to what it was last season, when the Longhorns nearly reached the championship series at the CWS.

If Parker French has a good outing (like he did against OU in Game 1 - 7.2 innings, giving up 2 runs on 9 hits), the bullpen seems to break down (like it did when Connor Mayes had two outs in the top of the 12th but gave up an RBI single that turned out to be the Sooners' game-winning run in a 3-2 victory).

Kacy Clemens was solid in a 4-2 victory over the Sooners in Game 2.

But in Game 3, UT went through 8 pitchers after starter Kyle Johnston went just 2.1 innings, giving up a run on two hits with 4 walks.

The Longhorns cut OU's lead to 3-2 in the 8th inning. But couldn't get hits when needed. 

Ben Johnson, who has been a monster for Texas, suddenly struggled at the plate, going 1-for-11 in the OU series and 0-for-5 in Game 3.

When the pitching is struggling, the offense has to pick things up, and it's just not happening like it was earlier in the year, when UT always seemed capable of erasing deficits with confidence at the plate.


#9 ... The Longhorns were 5-1 in Big 12 play and are now 6-6 (and 19-17 overall).

Even though UT is headed in the wrong direction, the Horns are not out of the Big 12 race.

Oklahoma State and OU are 8-4. TCU and Texas Tech are 7-5. UT is only two games back of first place.

The good news is UT has series' remaining against Kansas, TCU, Texas Tech and Baylor.

The bad news is three of those four series are on the road (only Texas Tech is at home).


#10 ... Speaking of Texas golf and former UT national champ Jordan Spieth, I expect the Longhorns, currently No. 3, to contend for the national title this season. 

Florida State is No. 1 and seen as the favorite to win it all at the NCAA championship beginning May 29 at the Concession Golf Club near Tampa.

But Texas is getting stellar play from freshman sensation Scottie Scheffler, fellow freshman Doug Ghim and sophomores Beau Hossler (who led the U.S. Open briefly two years ago) and Gavin Hall.

The Horns won their fifth tournament of the year over the weekend (Western Intercollegiate in Santa Cruz, Calif.) and will likely move ahead of Illinois into the No. 2 ranking.


ONE LAST THING: Congrats to the Texas Quidditch team for winning a third straight Quidditch World Cup championship over the weekend.

I know nothing about Quidditch other than it looks uncomfortable. (The following photo taken by Scott Audette of Reuters.)



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