“Go get that!”
With those three words, Jordan Spieth instructed caddie Michael Greller to fetch his ball from the hole after he sank a 50-foot eagle putt at the 15th green at Royal Birkdale that propelled him to victory at the 2017 British Open.
The Spieth legend grew that day and his words became more famous than the dramatic putt he holed. Spieth captured his third major and third leg of the career Grand Slam, and while the wait to join the exclusive Grand Slam club continues, Spieth never tires of talking about his Open Championship heroics.
In advance of the 151st British Open at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake, England, Spieth, a Rolex testimonee, was kind enough to participate in this wide-ranging Q &A through his partnership with Rolex, including those about winning the Open in 2017, thoughts on links golf and more.
Question: It was a thrilling conclusion to The Open at Royal Birkdale in 2017 and you demonstrated remarkable resilience and skill in your final round to win. Can you tell us about what was going through your mind during those final moments?
Jordan Spieth: At The Open, you typically tee off late but the coverage starts early. It is actually beneficial to watch the coverage to see the pin locations and identify what to target or avoid. I don’t watch it with sound and a leaderboard flashes every 90 seconds so it is good to keep an eye on that. I had a three-shot lead – a position that you want to be in but it made it more difficult to sleep on rather than being tied.
I just remember wanting to get the first tee shot away. It was a 3-wood. and it was out of balance to the right with the wind off to the left. It was just an awkward tee shot; a really challenging one. I was so anxious to hit that first tee shot and then to come sit down and wait to play the rest of the round. I hit a good shot which actually ended up in some tall grass but I hit it on the line that I wanted.
For some reason, I was not comfortable for the majority of that round, and then suddenly I kicked it into gear there on the 14th hole. That was when I really settled in, I lost the lead and realized that I still had time left. I did not feel the pressure of having this lead and not playing well like I did on the first 13 holes. I just had a really great swing on a 6 iron, and I remember that shot as being probably the best iron shot that I have ever hit. It almost went it.
I ended up making the three-four footer for birdie, then eagled the next and birdied the next two. I arrived at the 18th green after what felt like an eternity of a round which I finished 1 under and maintained by three-shot lead to finish 12 under.
Q: After winning the Open Championship in 2017, you joined fellow Rolex Testimonee and legend of the game Jack Nicklaus as the only two golfers in the Masters era to win three different Majors before the age of 24. Can you describe the feeling of what it is like to be recognized alongside some of the game’s greats?
JS: This is something that is very special. I did not really think of the historical significance of the achievement at the time because it was such a crazy final round at The Open. It also occurred in the middle of a season, where I soared into first place in the FedEx Cup rankings, so there was a lot going on. I only really looked back at my achievements during the autumn, and during this time I started to process the historical relevance of it. To be placed in a category as or linked with Jack Nicklaus is pretty monumental as it means that you achieved incredible results at a young age, or remained consistent throughout your career. Jack Nicklaus is not only a legend on the golf course, holding the record for the most Major championships – a record that may never get caught, but he is also such a gentleman off the course.
Q: How special was it to play in the 150th Open at St Andrews in 2022?
JS: At the Champions dinner on the Tuesday night, we were awarded a medal for the 150th anniversary and it was so special to be recognized as a Champion Golfer of the year. That kicked off an extremely special week, where we were able to play in the Champions Challenge on the Wednesday on the little loop. The Old Course is just so much fun to play. The conditions can vary a lot. When the wind does not blow, you can make a lot of birdies but when it does, you have to hold on.
It is just pure links golf, where you get to play right into town, and those last few holes are extremely special. You get to play them in so many different ways and it always seems to produce an interesting finish.
Q: Do you enjoy playing links golf? How does your preparation have to change and how hard is it to adapt to playing in the different conditions?
JS: I have always loved playing links golf. I fell in love with links golf when I was 14 years old when I came over to England for the first time and witnessed it. I love the imagination that is needed on the course and particularly around the greens and with the different flights you get to hit with the golf ball. Even though they are normally relatively flat pieces of land, you have to play with so much feel in order to be successful – especially as the conditions get worse or change. You generally get to experience all four seasons in one day whilst playing and this is something that you do not get anywhere else.
I have noticed that because of my love for it, whether a golf course fits my eye or not, I find a way to find a shot that makes sense to a hole. I find some comfort in links golf, and I look forward to continuing to try to be more successful over there. As far as preparation goes, this last year was the first year I played the Scottish Open the week before The Open. I found that beneficial so I will probably look to continue to do that over the next few seasons.