Teenager Spieth will call on his imagination

Fresh off 1st win, Jordan Spieth, 19, and caddie Michael Greller of Tacoma will take on British Open

The Associated PressJuly 17, 2013 

GULLANE, Scotland — Jordan Spieth has a problem that would be a major irritation to most teenagers.

His cellphone keeps cutting out since he arrived in Scotland.

“Honestly, my service plan is not working too hot over here,” Spieth said Tuesday, strolling toward the lunch tent at Muirfield.

But Spieth isn’t like most teens.

This past weekend, the 19-year-old from Texas became the youngest PGA Tour winner in 82 years. Within hours, he was on a charter flight across the Atlantic to play in his first British Open beginning Thursday.

And, thanks to that spotty phone service, he hasn’t been able to spend too much time dwelling on his grueling, landmark victory in the John Deere Classic.

That’s not a bad thing, either.

“It’s interesting not being able to watch any of it, to not be able to see some of the responses I would normally want to see afterward,” Spieth said. “I can refocus, think of it as just another week. I can reflect on (the John Deere win) more after this week. But today,

I had to turn my attention here because it’s one of the biggest weeks of the year.”

Seems as though he’ll handle the pressure just fine.

Spieth turned pro after one season at the University of Texas, intent on earning his Tour card even though he didn’t have status on any circuit. His agent promised to line up at least seven events through exemptions, perhaps enough to earn a few playing chances and give him a realistic shot at earning his card for 2014.

Instead, Spieth has already played in 16 tournaments, finishing in the top 10 five times before his breakthrough victory.

It didn’t come easy. He needed what will be remembered as one of the shots of the year — holing out from a greenside bunker on the 72nd hole for a birdie that pushed him into a three-man playoff. Then, on the fifth extra hole, Spieth finally finished off David Heard and Zach Johnson.

The most immediate benefit was earning a spot at Muirfield. But there’s all sorts of perks that came along with the win, including a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a spot in next year’s Masters, and a chance to play in the FedEx Cup playoff after he soared to No. 11 in the standings.

“I never would have expected this at the start of the year,” Spieth said. “I just wanted to get my Tour card for next year.”

Some of his fellow players realized he had plenty of game even before he began playing regularly on Tour. Phil Mickelson, who started getting noticed while still in college as well, has been watching Spieth’s promising play for three years.

“But he is more than that,” Mickelson said. “He’s enjoyable to be around. He’s got charisma. People are drawn to him.”

It might be a bit of a reach to expect Spieth to contend this week at Muirfield, which he played for the first time Tuesday with Tacoma’s Michael Greller as his caddie.

But he’s got plenty of experience with this style of golf, representing the U.S. in the 2011 Walker Cup at Scotland’s Royal Aberdeen. He quickly took to the creative shots required in the bumpy, windy conditions.

“This is my favorite type of golf,” Spieth said. “It’s fun. You get to use your imagination. You can use all types of clubs around the greens. You can play off ridges. I can pretty much play with (Greller’s) head. There’s nothing basic. I’m sure he’ll be saying, ‘What the heck are you trying to do?’ a couple of times out there.”

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