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Valspar Championship win puts Spieth in rare air

Jordan’s clutch up and downs lead to playoff win

Jordan Spieth made it official on Sunday. The gaudy expectations are not hype or hyperbole. They are very real and, by every early indication, built for the long haul.

The 21-year-old Texan is golf’s new Very Big Deal. Not only did he win Sunday’s Valspar Championship, birdieing the third playoff hole to defeat Sean O’Hair and Patrick Reed, he did it like few ever before.

With a final-round 69 and a 10-under performance on the difficult Innisbrook Resort Copperhead Course, Spieth not only won the golf tournament, he became just the fourth player since 1940 to win twice on the PGA TOUR prior to his 22nd birthday. He joined Tiger Woods, Sergio Garcia and Robert Gamez.

“OK, I like studying the game, historian of the game.” said Spieth, who jumped to No. 7 in the FedExCup standings. “It’s really cool to have my name, you know, go along side those. But right now currently and what I’m really focused on is Rory McIlroy is No. 1 in the world. That’s who everyone is trying to chase.

“That’s our ultimate goal is to eventually, you know, be the best in the world and this is a great, great stepping stone. But going into the four majors of the year, to have closed one out in this kind of fashion is going to give me a lot of confidence.”

Making his first appearance at Augusta National last year at age 20, he held the Sunday afternoon lead at the Masters before finally finishing second to Bubba Watson. This is the guy who won two U.S. Juniors, joining Woods as the event’s only multiple champ. He’s the same golfer, who at age 16, finished tied for 16th at the AT&T Byron Nelson Championship, a higher finish than Woods ever recorded as an amateur playing a PGA TOUR event.It says a lot that both of Spieth’s PGA TOUR victories have been earned in playoffs.He when to 10-under and tied for the lead with a 31 foot birdie putt at No. 14. At 16 he saved par with a 57-foot bunker shot -- standing with one foot in and one foot out -- to three feet.  At 18 in regulation, he needed an up and down from the rough to join the playoff, and rolled in a 32-foot putt to save par.

Finally, he won the playoff with a 28-foot birdie putt.

 

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