Jordan Spieth motivated by name on Colonial wall and his hot start to the 2017 season

Defending champion at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational soaks in a sight that he’s dreamed of since his days as a junior golfer in Dallas

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 February, 2017, 11:31am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 February, 2017, 11:31am

Jordan Spieth, defending champion at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational, soaked in a sight on Monday that he’s dreamed of since his days as a junior golfer in Dallas.

Spieth, 23, spotted his name on the Wall of Champions at Colonial Country Club when he took part in the club’s kick-off luncheon. He looks forward to seeing it again during tournament week, May 22-28, and for years to come as he participates in Fort Worth’s annual PGA Tour stop.

Because Spieth, the No 6 player in the world golf rankings, had not returned to the club since finalising his three-stroke victory over Harris English at last year’s event, Monday marked his first opportunity to see his name etched in granite beside the first tee.

“It’s awesome. It’s so unique,” Spieth said. “It’s kind of a surreal experience. It’s one of those pinch-me moments that I don’t get very often any more.

“I’ve been coming to this tournament since I was 9 or 10 years old and I’ve always looked at the wall. This brings me back to 10 years ago, 15 years ago, when I was in the autograph line” hoping to collect the signature of a Colonial champion. The victory remains Spieth’s lone tour triumph in Texas.

When tour competitors return to Fort Worth in May, Spieth will be the defending champion signing mementos for the next generation for Dallas-Fort Worth golf fans. Spieth, who finished 22nd Sunday at the Genesis Open in Los Angeles, ranks among several notable players planning to compete in Fort Worth.

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Also on the list, per tournament officials, are Brandt Snedeker, Jason Dufner and Colleyville resident Ryan Palmer, a Colonial member who finished third last year and served as Spieth’s final-round playing partner. Colonial officials held Monday’s luncheon to coincide with the March 1 start of ticket sales to this year’s event.

Spieth, a nine-time tour winner and two-time major champion, secured his latest victory February 9 at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. The triumph marked Spieth’s first tour win since claiming his plaid jacket at Colonial. After making some minor swing tweaks following the 2016 Ryder Cup, where Spieth was part of the victorious US squad, the Dallas resident said he has been pleased to crack the top 10 in four of his first five starts during the 2017 calendar year.

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“I think it’s the best start that I’ve ever had to any season in my career,” said Spieth, who leads the tour in scoring average (68.95) and greens in regulation (77.22 per cent). “Pebble was big because we got our good rounds in early and we kept the pedal down. Protecting the lead isn’t an easy thing on the PGA Tour.”

But Spieth got it done during weekend rounds to secure a four-stroke victory over Kelly Kraft. During Monday’s luncheon, he presented Colonial officials with the 60-degree wedge he used to chip in for a tournament-clinching birdie from beside the 17th green in last year’s final round.

“This club was very useful at No 17,” Spieth said as he handed over the wedge to tournament officials during the luncheon. Also useful, from Spieth’s perspective, figures to be the recurring sight of his name as one of Colonial’s tournament winners as he prepares for future rounds.

Spieth, who finished second to Chris Kirk at the 2015 Colonial, acknowledged sneaking peeks of Kirk’s name on the Wall of Champions to inspire him during last year’s event.

“I felt like, ‘That could’ve been me,’” Spieth said. “It’s going to be a good feeling once the tournament starts. It’s going to give me a lot of confidence knowing, for years to come – not just this next year – that our name’s on that wall.”