Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Jordan Spieth, at 16 a junior golf sensation, takes on the pros this week at the Nelson
He's about to do something guys with names like Tiger Woods and Justin Leonard have done, and, funny, that's probably not even the most interesting thing about Jordan Spieth.
The kid is 16, and he often texts Tony Romo - "just an unbelievable guy, not many people know that about him," he adds. He's traveled all over the country and to England. Oh, and back to the Woods and Leonard comparison: He's making his PGA Tour debut this week in the HP Byron Nelson Championship, having gained only the second amateur exemption in the tournament since those two did so in 1993.
Again, he's 16.
"It's a little crazy," says Spieth, a Titleist cap covering his almost mop-top, curly blonde hair as he hits a practice putt. "But I don't want to think about that kind of stuff. I just want to keep my head on straight, I guess."
Maybe you've heard of Spieth by now. He's the one whose name appears on the top of all those junior golfer rankings, who won the prestigious U.S. Junior Amateur last year, who is now gearing up to play golf against the best in the world.
On Monday, Spieth, a junior at Jesuit, played in one of the Nelson pro-am. He's slated to practice with Leonard today before starting in earnest on Thursday.
Even in golf, a sport in which overzealous fathers place clubs in cribs, young talents don't often rise to this level. They especially don't rise as quickly as Spieth.
As recently as five years ago, he was the regular kid, dabbling in all sports. Around seventh grade, he decided to focus on golf.
Spieth, fully showered and dressed in his golf clothes, started waking his mother, Chris, at 8 on Saturday mornings, begging her to drive him to the course. He entered and won tournaments against 15- to 18-year-olds.
Soon, the family enlisted the help of coach Cameron McCormick, who retooled Spieth's swing and helped turn him into, well ... the U.S. Junior Amateur champion, a two-time UIL state champion and a player who routinely finishes in the top 10 of national junior events.
In March, Spieth played in the Azalea Invitational in South Carolina, pairing up with Romo on the course and off. The two stayed in the same beachfront house with the tournament director. They ate together at Outback.
Last week, McCormick and Spieth were practicing at the TPC Four Seasons at Las Colinas, and Romo and Miles Austin arrived. They asked Spieth if he wanted to join them for a round.
"You think of him as just a friend," Spieth says of Romo.
In a way, Spieth's ability to relate to Romo translates to his success on the course. He doesn't get rattled around big names.
McCormick has brought many players with Tour status to practice with Spieth. A year ago, two of them wondered aloud why they had to play with a 15-year-old. After 10 holes, Spieth was 4 under, beating both.
"He tends to gravitate to a greater level," McCormick says.
So then maybe Spieth's goal for this week isn't all that crazy. And his goal is not about making the cut.
"No, no, no, no," he says. "I don't enter a tournament unless I think I can win."
He does, though, along with his coach, admit that this tournament is about development and learning.
Remember, though the sports celeb connections and world traveling don't show it, that Spieth is a kid. This Thursday he will be in the Nelson, but last Thursday he was in Austin among peers at the UIL state championship.
On the 11th hole that day, Spieth and two other golfers waited on the tee box for the group ahead to finish. Spieth placed a white towel on the grass and lounged, legs extended, looking ahead.
A future as lush as the dewy fairway that glistened in front of him is already beginning, and Spieth is enjoying everything that comes his way.