The unplayable lie that gave way to an improbable comeback and British Open victory at Royal Birkdale gave Jordan Spieth the third leg three of the career grand slam in the summer of 2017. He also joined Jack Nicklaus as the only players to have won three of the four major championships before their 24th birthdays.
Spieth had taken a three-stroke lead into the final round, squandered it, then fell one stroke behind Matt Kuchar on the 13th hole. There he had hit a wayward drive, took an unplayable lie and the attendant penalty stroke, and somehow mitigated the damage, what Golf Digest’s Dan Jenkins called “the bogey that won the Open.” Spieth played the final five holes in five-under par — with birdie (and nearly a hole-in-one), eagle, birdie, birdie and par — and won by two.
Three weeks earlier, on the first playoff hole at the Travelers Championship, Spieth holed a 60-foot bunker shot to defeat Daniel Berger. And in February, he won the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am by four. His three victories marked the third straight year that Spieth has won multiple times on the PGA Tour, following two wins in 2016 and five in 2015.
Spieth, 24, can trace his rapid rise to golf prominence back to the athletic family into which he was born in 1993. His dad, Shawn, played baseball at Lehigh University, and his mom, Chris, was a basketball player at Moravian College. Jordan’s younger brother Steven is a basketball player at Brown University while his younger sister, Ellie, born with a genetic disorder, is the true star of the family.
Baseball was Spieth’s first love. A left-handed pitcher, he gave it up at age 12 to focus on golf, and he quickly became one of the most heralded junior players. He won two U.S. Junior Amateur Championships, only the second player ever to win multiple Juniors (Tiger Woods is the other), and was an American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) first-team All-American three times.
At age 16 and a high school junior at Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas, he was invited to play in his first PGA Tour event, the HP Byron Nelson Championship, and gained national attention when he was in contention for most of the tournament and ended up tying for 16th. Among other accomplishments as a junior, Jordan was selected to the victorious 2011 Walker Cup team, where as a 17-year old, he held an undefeated record. Upon graduating from Jesuit, Spieth enrolled at the University of Texas, where he helped the Texas Longhorns win the 2012 NCAA Team Championship in his freshman year and was named first-team All-American.
The Amateur Years
In 2013, midway through his sophomore year, Spieth decided to turn pro and played his way onto the the PGA Tour, highlighted by a T2nd at the Puerto Rico Classic and T7th at the Tampa Bay Championship. Later that year, Jordan went on to win his first professional tournament, the John Deere Classic, becoming the youngest PGA Tour winner in 82 years. He concluded the year ranked 7th on the FedEx Cup and earned a Captain’s selection for the United States Presidents Cup team, becoming the youngest ever to play in the event. To cap the incredible season, Spieth was unanimously named 2013 Rookie of the Year.
2013 PGA TOUR Highlights
As a 20-year old, Jordan followed his first year on the PGA TOUR with continued consistency and strong performances. He recorded eight top-tens, with two 2nd place finishes, including an incredible runner-up performance in his debut at The Masters and a T5 at The PLAYERS Championship. He earned a spot on the United States Ryder Cup Team and was once again the youngest player (in modern golf) to do so. Jordan finished his exceptional year with impressive back-to-back victories. An 8-under 63 in the final round of The Emirates Australian Open made him the first American to win the event in over 20 years. The following week, in an elite field at the Hero World Challenge, Spieth dominated the field with a 10-shot victory.
2014 PGA TOUR Highlights
Spieth’s 2015 was arguably one of the most historic golf seasons ever played with five victories and 15 total top-tens. After winning the Valspar Championship in March, Spieth shattered records with his first major victory at the 2015 Masters Tournament. He holds the lowest 36-hole and 54-hole scoring records, the most birdies (26) in 72 rounds and tied the 72-hole scoring record. He is the second youngest player to earn a Masters green jacket, next to Tiger Woods. He followed with another extraordinary major victory at The U.S. Open Championship at Chambers Bay, becoming the youngest golfer to ever hold the first two legs of golf’s majors at just 21-years old. He went on to finish T4 at The Open Championship (1-shot out of a playoff) and 2nd at The PGA Championship. Including yet another victory at the John Deere Classic, he solidified his season’s place in golf history with a victory at The TOUR Championship, earning his fifth win in 2015 as well as becoming the FedEx Cup Champion. Jordan finished the season number one in the Official World Golf Rankings and was unanimously named 2015 Player of the Year.
2015 PGA TOUR Highlights
Jordan's full-swing flop shot off the 18th green captivated the gallery and media alike, allowing him to save par and maintain momentum. Joe Posnanski of the Golf Channel called it, "a shot that buckles the knees of every player of every skill level around the world." Read the story.
Jordan watches a putt on the 12th green. Jordan started slowly on the front nine but the Masters champion compensated with a dramatic stretch, announcing his arrival with three straight birdies starting on No. 11 to put him squarely in the mix going into Friday. Read the story.
With his third victory this year — fourth since embarking on his pro career in 2013 — Jordan will head to the British Open in St. Andrew’s, Scotland, in search of more history. Jordan's grand slam chances? As Ian O'Connor wrote in ESPN, don't bet against him.
Inspired by his sister Ellie, Jordan fulfilled a lifelong dream by launching the Jordan Spieth Family Foundation. The focus of this charitable endeavor is to provide financial assistance and a platform for supporting children with special needs, military families, juniorgolf programs and the most recent addition, pediatric cancer.
Quick Facts About Jordan
Born: July 27, 1993 in Dallas, TX
Education: University of Texas at Austin
Official World Golf Ranking: 3rd
2013 FedEx Cup Ranking: 7th
2014 FedEx Cup Ranking: 15th
2015 FedEx Cup Ranking: 1st
2016 FedEx Cup Ranking: 9th
2017 FedEx Cup Ranking: 2nd
- Turned professional in December 2012
- Only player other than Tiger Woods to win multiple U.S. Junior Amateur Titles
- 2012 NCAA Champion (Freshman)
- Reached #1 in World in World Amateur Ranking (June 2012)
- 2013 PGA Rookie of the Year
- Youngest player since 1929 to play on U.S. Ryder Cup Team
- Youngest player to play on a U.S. President's Cup Team
- All-time best combined Major Score in a calendar year
- Youngest player ever to earn PGA TOUR membership
- Youngest player to win on the PGA TOUR in 82 years
- Youngest American player ever to make World Top-10
- 2015 PGA Player of the Year
- Second player with three legs of the Grand Slam before turning 24, joining Jack Nicklaus
- Youngest American to ever win The Open
Masters 2015 Records
- Ties 72-hole scoring record (-18)
- Lowest 54-hole total (-16)
- Lowest 36-hole total (-14)
- Most birdies (26) in 72 holes
- 1st player to reach -19 total
2013 John Deere Classic
2014 Emirates Australian Open
2014 Hero World Challenge
2015 Valspar Championship
2015 Masters Tournament
2015 U.S. Open Championship
2015 John Deere Classic
2015 TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola
2016 Hyundai Tournament of Champions
2016 Dean & DeLuca Invitational
2016 Emirates Australian Open
2017 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am
2017 Travelers Championship
2017 Open Championship