By Chris Richards, AJGA Communications
Once his second shot on No. 13 cleared the tributary and safely found the putting surface, there was much cause to look forward as Jordan Spieth closed in on winning the 2015 Masters. Speaking on behalf of the AJGA family, it was also the first of a series of moments that prompted reflection.
My first Jordan Spieth memory came in 2008. Leading by four with one hole to play, Jordan missed the 18th fairway with his tee shot and was behind a pod of trees, 195 yards from the flagstick. A hazard fronted the green, so I expected to see a lay-up, a two-putt bogey and a three-stroke win.
Instead, I was treated to a high, cutting long-iron that flew over the flagstick and finished 20 feet behind the hole.
How silly I was to think that he would lay-up on No. 13 Sunday.
“I don't play as well when I play conservatively,” said Spieth, who was 14 years old at the time. “I've kind of given up at the end before, so it was important for me to finish strong and par the last hole.”
Twenty months after that victory in Texas, Jordan donned a dark gray sports coat and addressed peers, sponsors and tournament staff as he gave his acceptance speech as the 2009 Rolex Junior Player of the Year.
His opening line from a speech that had jokes, affection and a slightly thicker Texas accent: “I told myself that I wouldn’t be nervous standing on this podium tonight, but I guess I was wrong.”
We didn’t know it at the time, but that speech in 2009 foreshadowed what we would hear on April 12, 2015.
His opening line from the Green Jacket Ceremony: “I’ve only dreamt about being here, I actually never realized I would, and therefore I am not prepared.”
He then thanked Chairman Billy Payne and the members of Augusta National. He thanked the volunteers. He thanked the food and beverage staff. And, of course, he thanked his friends, family and host of supporters.
Ask any of the hundreds of AJGA champions through the years, and they will all tell you that Jordan delivered an AJGA-approved speech Sunday night in Augusta. The scenes were familiar, his personality largely unchanged. The most notable difference was the fit and color of the jacket he was wearing.
Jordan Spieth's 2009 Rolex Junior Player of the Year speech