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Wednesday, May 29, 2024
The Observer

Laufenberg: The return of (my crush on) Jordan Spieth

Golf, for as long as I can remember, was one of my dad’s favorite pastimes. He loved to watch golf, play golf, drink with his friends while playing golf, buy clubs for golf — you get it (I have already reached the point at which golf seems like it’s not a real word).

So, as would follow from his obsession, a large part of my childhood was my father teaching me to golf. If I’m being honest with you, I have never really been athletic, though not for lack of effort. But I have a natural talent for golf for some reason. My family seems to think that it stems from my “natural gracefulness” due to being in ballet all my life. They used to joke that even though I was never the best, I was always the “most graceful” in every event I tried (cue me thinking that the goal of running hurdles was just to not knock down the hurdles).

But because golf was such a huge part of my dad’s life, I stuck with it. I took golf lessons every summer, was on the girls’ golf club in middle school, played on the boys’ team in high school, competed in a youth league where you had to walk 18 holes every match (never again will I walk playing golf), worked at my town’s golf course for three summers and taught local kids ages 5-16. Thinking back now, golf wound up being a pretty big part of my life.

As a young adult, golf was one of the few (if not only) things my dad and I had in common. Spending time together on weekends watching tournaments was a large chunk of the time I would get to spend with him. So, I paid attention. Turns out, I actually really liked to watch golf. It was not as fast-paced as some other sports like football or basketball (which I still love to watch). Nor was it as statistics-based as baseball (I did not need any more math in my life).

So, I’ve set the stage. Young adult Bella forced (not really) to watch golf as a way to get closer to her father. Now, enter Jordan Spieth. What to say about a man who needs no introduction. Except, probably, his introduction.

Spieth is a professional golfer from the University of Texas and Dallas native, who entered his prime right around when I was in my early teens. I think you can see where I’m going with this. But yes, I can finally admit I had a huge crush on him. Normal teenage girls might crush on pop stars or actors. But I can’t be like other girls, right?

Even though I was giving off strong “pick me” vibes (please have mercy, I’m being very vulnerable here), it was not without reason!  I’ll start off with his greatest hits.

Spieth was the FedEx Cup champion in 2015 (which means he was the best golfer in the entire world basically). He has won 13 tournaments, including the Masters Tournament, U.S. Open and the Open Championships. He is one of only 12 golfers ever to win three out of the four major championships and has 83 top-10 finishes. He has also been a part of four Ryder Cup Championship teams and has four Presidents Cup appearances. Additionally, Spieth qualified for the 2016 Olympics in Rio but chose not to go.

But the biggest reason I’ve always been a Spieth fan is his heart. He is a down-to-earth player who never appears to be bragging or overly prideful (unlike some other golfers, *cough* Brooks Koepka *cough*) and places great importance on his family. He has a younger sister who is special needs. And because of that experience caring for her, he used his earnings on the tour to start The Jordan Spieth Family Foundation. The organization, which began as a way to support children with special needs, also helps military families, junior golf programs and pediatric cancer patients.

Even though I always view him as a winner, Spieth has had a bit of a rocky few years. However, he still is winning tournaments and consistently makes an appearance at the top of the leaderboards. Right now, he is 71 out of 226 in the FedEx Cup rankings. That’s not bad, but not where you really want to be.

He is showing glimpses of his former glory more recently. Spieth had an early lead in January’s Sony Open, finished in a four-way tie for sixth place at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and finished in a four-way tie for fourth place last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

No matter what happens, I have confidence that he will make a comeback. Maybe it will be this year. Maybe it will be in 10 years. But I know Spieth will return to the top in time.