A snapshot of Spieth’s frustration
By Ken Love
For the Mirror
I’ve been a big Jordan Spieth ever since he arrived on tour just a few years ago.
He’s always been easy to root for — an all-American kid, with two-time major championships and a straight-forward, honest personality.
Those many, fine qualities are why I’d like to give him a pass on some of the out of character moments he’s displayed over the past several months.
A recent run of poor play has seen the usually-affable Spieth becoming more and more frustrated on the golf course.
While it’s true that television cameras are focused on Spieth more frequently than the average touring pro, the normally interesting banter between this young phenom and his caddy has recently turned into more of a gripe-fest with Spieth coming across as a young man with very little patience.
All of this seemed to come to a head at last weekend’s Players Championship when Spieth encountered an extremely poor lie in a greenside bunker on the first hole — presumably caused by a poor rake job.
While any golfer would have been understandably frustrated, Spieth took his displeasure to another level by quickly pulling out his cell phone and snapping a photo so that he could later share with tournament officials.
Again, I realize that every golfer would be unsettled after encountering the same bad break that Spieth was faced with, but few would have reacted in the same, frenetic way that he did.
The entire scene created quite a media firestorm.
In my opinion, Spieth could have definitely gotten his point across without the ugly scene of pulling out a cell-phone camera. A quiet, private conversation with officials after his round would have certainly sufficed.
Here’s hoping we quickly get back to discussing Spieth’s talents on the course. He’s teeing it up again this week at the Shell Houston Open in Texas.
Each May, thousands of aspiring golfers submit applications with the intention of qualifying for our country’s top title — the United States Open.
Numerous qualifying sites are utilized across the country, and in order to be eligible, a golfer must fit into one of two categories – the first one being an amateur golfer with a handicap index of 1.4 (or lower) handicap and the second being a professional golfer.
Either category would seem quite daunting to achieve for the average golfer, but the definition of a “professional” golfer turns out to be a bit more curious than it seems at first glance.
The USGA technically defines a “professional” as anyone receiving — or attempting to receive — monetary gain through playing or teaching golf.
So, in essence, it is possible to technically become a “professional” – in the USGA’s eyes – by simply declaring yourself a “professional.”
Over the years, this loophole has been used by a small number of curious-minded, unskilled golfers who have attempted to skirt the intended rules and gain entry into a U.S. Open qualifier.
Reports through the years have been received of multiple double-digit scores being recorded before tournament officials identify the culprit — and politely escort him off the course.
Last week, Clifton McDonald entered a U.S. Open qualifier at the Robert Trent Jones Trail in Silver Lake in Glencoe, Ala. He bypassed the normal 1.4 handicap requirement by registering as a “professional.”
His play during the event, however, quickly revealed his particular absence of skill. McDonald scored a 68 — on his opening nine holes. He would eventually end with a cringe-worthy total of 127 — 55-over par.
For some unrevealed reason, tournament officials failed to ask McDonald to abandon his round – even when it became apparent that his attempt was just a rouse – allowing McDonald’s final tally of 127 to be the highest recorded U.S. Open qualifying score in decades.
The Central Counties team and individual championship will be held June 3-4 at Down River Golf Club in Everett.
This two-day stroke play tournament brings together the best golfers from clubs in Blair, Bedford, Cambria, Huntingdon, Centre, Clearfield, Mifflin and Clinton Counties. Last year’s winner was Matt Baer, who captured the title at the Mount Union American Legion Club.
This historic tournament is among the oldest in the country, having begun in 1924. Golfers interested in playing can call the Down River pro shop at 814-652-5193.
Ken Love covers local golf for the Mirror. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.