Yesterday, when Jordan Spieth applauded the gallery after finishing the final round of The Players Championship on The Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, he showed some class — more than some of the media has shown since.
Sadly, I knew it was going to happen if Spieth did not win Sunday. After faltering on the back nine of The Masters in April and losing to Bubba Watson, he struggled again on the back nine at The Players. Sure enough, today there are some headlines and comments that he can't finish. Please.
He didn't finish in two of golf's biggest tournaments — the first time he's played both — but he's proven he can finish by already winning once in his first year on the PGA Tour. Many players never win on Tour. Never.
Solid and Then Spectacular
They don't just give away these championships; you have to be solid and then spectacular on Sunday. Spieth was solid, but Watson was spectacular that Sunday at Augusta. Yesterday's champion, Martin Kaymer, was unrelentingly solid as he pulled ahead of the field by three strokes with four holes to play. The rain delay messed him up, and, after play resumed, bad shot followed bad shot. But Kaymer's 28-foot putt on 17 (see video), his drive on 18 and his putt from the fairway to the 18th green were beyond spectacular.
"We can do better by doing less."
So celebrate Kaymer's theatrics, absolutely. But make stupid, attention-seeking statements that Spieth can't finish? Absolutely not! It's embarrassing and we can do better simply by doing less. Just do the reporting and let time and the player's talent and drive play out. Praise Spieth's considerable gifts, but don't gush on and on about his age (20) and make projections of greatness. Resist that temptation. We've been down this road with Rory McIlroy and other rising young guns, and, again, we can do better by doing less.
Enough About His Age
Last point about Spieth's age, about how he handles himself so well on and off the course for a guy so young. I wonder what other 20-year-olds think of this endless, ageist talk. What, young guys are all numbskulls? Making good decisions is about character and personality, not age. When I think of bonehead decisions on the course, I think of the likes of Watson, Phil Michelson and Sergio Garcia — and those guys aren't close to 20.
It is amazing and unusual, certainly, that a 20-year-old has had such success, but I'm guessing that Spieth considers his age an advantage, not a liability; that he's short on experience but makes up for it with fresh focus and steady nerve. Either that or he thinks of his age as a distraction for his opponents — again, an asset — and a non-factor for him. No matter the age, he still has to make the shots.