Perhaps the best thing that came out of Jordan Spieth’s incredible win at the Masters on Sunday was that it affirmed the civility of the game.
We have for some time now been enjoying the fresh-faced, gentility of Rory McIlroy. His low-key patience with probing, redundant questions is impressive. How many times must he hear “what’s wrong?” when things go wrong in his game and yet he sits there with that charming little smile on his face and earnestly answers the questions once again.
There was a time when his Twitter timeline was strewn with tweets about his celebratory drinking — all in good fun — but those are all gone in favor of inspirational Nike ads and pictures of him all buffed up from his rigorous diet and fitness routines. In other words, he has grown up. The mantle of the No. 1 player is a wonderful crown of responsibility. He’s someone you’d like to hang out with. Having been in his presence, I assure you that it would be time well spent.
And now we have another great role model to join McIlroy at the top of the game, the new No. 2 player in the world, Jordan Spieth.
Spieth’s admirable traits began for us when we began to appreciate the way he played the game. And that appreciation deepened when we realized that this was not a vacuous accomplishment on his part. He is a student of the inner dimension of the game where ardor is revered, but anger isn’t; where true, considered patience speaks volumes about the internal work that someone has done on themselves; where a person is able to find the calm peace in the moment, free of the past or the future.
Did you hear his formal speech at the jacket and trophy presentation? It was if he had been a public speaker for years. He thanked his caddie, Michael Greller, his family and friends, the Augusta National members, the greenskeepers and astoundingly, the food and beverage staff. Who thanks the food and beverage staff? It’s a sign that somebody’s antennae are up and that he’s paying attention to everyone who has contributed to his moment in the sun. Which, of course, included the volunteers whom he warmly thanked with more than two sentences. And then the Masters patrons whom he credited for their knowledge of the game and their support. So he understands true gratitude.
He also understands perspective, much of that coming from his loving relationship with his special needs sister, Ellie, whom he credits as being the funniest person in the family of five (he also has a brother). He admires her for her bright cheerfulness, and stays in touch with her when he’s on the road. He’s also started a foundation and golf tournament that supports his three key interests: junior golf, military families and special needs youths. He’s 21 years old.
He was also raised to be humble, so when he was asked this weekend for his thoughts on humility, he said that responding to that question would not be humble.
He spoke about the fraternity of players that is the PGA Tour and how they are a big family that helps each other out.
So on top of this player with extraordinary golf talent — he has done what nobody with two years experience is supposed to be able to do — we have a good citizen and role model for all the kids who watch the pros…and for those of us who now appreciate just how special he is.