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Sunday, 23 July 2017

Spieth Doesn't Know the Meaning of the Word

I know I am prone to constantly referring back to Bobby Jones whenever I talk golf. I'm not sure whether others find it annoying or not. Certainly, my buddy Steve didn't find reading Bobby's books as illuminating, or as easy to read, as I did. 

But writing style aside, Bobby Jones, as much as any other player in history, understood what was most important in playing golf, and just how much the game of golf mirrors life. Bobby's most important lesson came from Harry Vardon, who said, "No matter what happens, keep on hitting the ball." This, Bobby learned to do as well as any player who ever lived. He used that approach to golf to do what was, and continues to be, almost the unthinkable in winning the Grand Slam.

It's perhaps easy to get carried away in the wake of a performance like we saw from Jordan Spieth on this Open Sunday. It was a performance for the ages. And what did Spieth do best on this magic Sunday? He didn't drive it well. He didn't strike his irons as well as he can. He didn't even putt very well, at least for the first dozen holes. But what he did as well as anyone ever has is keep on hitting the ball in the face of great adversity. 

If you want to succeed at this game you can't be a quitter. And golf is the sort of game that often tempts you to just quit. It can be the most infuriating game in the world. You can be at the top of your game one minute, and suddenly have absolutely no idea what you are doing, and vice versa. Golf is like that proverbial box of chocolates. You just never know what you're going to get from one day to the next, from one hole to the next, even from one shot to the next. 

Golf cannot be subjected to control. You cannot make the putts drop by sheer force of will--although the great champions sometimes make it look that way. You have to accept the vagaries of the game. Look at Spieth's opening tee shot today. He striped it. He hit it as he wanted to, and on the line he wanted to. It should have bounded off the bank into the fairway. Instead it hung in the deep fescue. 

Spieth was clearly upset with his bad luck. A good shot had been punished. He was visibly distressed. But he did all that any golfer can do in the face of good luck or bad; he kept on hitting the ball. Today that patience and persistance was rewarded. And in that victory, I think, is a message for all of us. Good things can happen if we just refuse to give up. And believe me, sometimes even really good players give up, or let up. But if we have learned anything at all, in watching Jordan Spieth in action, we have surely learned that there is no quit in him. He doesn't know the meaning of the word.