British Open

Late entrant Spieth flies by the seat of his pants

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 July, 2013, 4:45am

It has been a crazy few days for 19-year-old Jordan Spieth.

The young American practised for the British Open on Tuesday in the same, unwashed trousers that he wore on Sunday to win the John Deere Classic in Illinois.

Spieth's fortunes changed in the blink of an eye when he became the youngest player since 1931 to win a PGA event, earning his tour card with a two-year exemption, banking US$828,000 and securing a coveted spot in the British Open.

Hours after holing a short but life-changing putt on the fifth extra hole, Spieth boarded a plane for Edinburgh, Scotland, to take his place alongside the world's best players at Muirfield.

Spieth's agent had reportedly arranged for the golfer's passport to be sent to Illinois just in case, but Spieth himself had not been planning so far ahead. "I only packed for one week. These are the pants I wore Sunday; haven't been washed," he said.

Spieth said he was more accustomed to watching the British Open unfold on TV rather than being on centre stage himself.

"This is the tournament that I watch every year. It's really cool to watch, when you wake up in the morning and see guys in the afternoon and you see it's miserable for them, and you're sitting on the couch," he said, referring to the noted inclement weather for the British Open.

Spieth, who is due to tee off at 7.50pm (Hong Kong time) today alongside fellow American Russell Henley and English amateur Matthew Fitzpatrick, appeared undaunted by his wild ride.

"I really do enjoy playing links golf. I don't spin the ball very much. I fly it low. And I like to use my imagination chipping. It's just a fun test to me, as long as I stay out of the sand," he said.

Asked what research he had done on the course, he replied: "I don't really have internet. Not a whole lot I could do. I'm just kind of free-swinging, feeling really good from last week, and just trying to keep that going. I made a lot of birdies last week … at least the putts are going in."

Spieth, who only turned pro in December, won plaudits from the greatest in the game.

"I think it's fantastic for him," said Tiger Woods. "Being 19 years old and having an opportunity to not only have a chance to win his first tournament, but the way he did it and went out there in the play-off and got it done," said world No1 Woods.

Four-time major winner Phil Mickelson said: "He's got charisma; people are drawn to him. He's going to be a real asset to the tour."