USGA CHAMPIONS
Spieth’s Accolades Only Made More Impressive by His Age July 27, 2017 By David Shefter, USGA

Jordan Spieth has achieved more on the golf course before turning 24 than just about anyone in the history of the game has. (USGA/Jeff Haynes)

Most 24-year-olds are at a point where they are trying to figure out where their lives and careers are headed.

Jordan Spieth isn’t one of them.

The Texan, who reached that age today, has already accomplished what most professional golfers strive for throughout the entirety of their careers, only to fall well short. How about winning three majors, including the 2015 U.S. Open, 14 worldwide victories (11 on the PGA Tour) and more than enough cash to comfortably retire?

When Spieth edged current world No. 1 Dustin Johnson by a stroke in the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, he became the youngest champion in 92 years (Bob Jones), and the youngest to claim two majors – he won the Masters two months earlier – in 93 years (Gene Sarazen). After his remarkable three-stroke victory in the Open Championship last Sunday at Royal Birkdale, he joined Jack Nicklaus as the only players with three different major titles before the age of 24.

Spieth and Tiger Woods are the only multiple champions of the U.S. Junior Amateur, a championship that spans 70 years. In fact, Spieth, Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Ryan Moore are the only male competitors in the post-World War II era to claim three USGA championship titles before the age of 24. 


Woods, of course, leads the pack with his three consecutive Junior Amateur and U.S. Amateur titles from 1991-96. Woods’ first U.S. Open title in 2000 at Pebble Beach came six months before he turned 25. Nicklaus won the 1959 and 1961 U.S. Amateur titles before registering his first professional victory in the 1962 U.S. Open in a playoff over Arnold Palmer at the age of 22. Moore won a pair of U.S. Amateur Public Links championships (2002 and 2004), and the U.S. Amateur in 2004, a year in which he also claimed the NCAA individual title.

For Spieth, it all began the year before he claimed the first of his two Junior Amateur titles in 2009 at Trump National Golf Club’s New Course in Bedminster, N.J. A semifinal loss in 2008 to Evan Beck at Shoal Creek fueled his desire to become a USGA champion. He talked about how important it was to him just before his U.S. Open victory.



A lot of eyeballs were focused on Spieth in 2009, and he delivered, becoming the first medalist to win since fellow Texan Matthew Rosenfeld nine years earlier.

“This is the biggest junior tournament in the world,” said Spieth, then 15, after defeating Jay Hwang in the 36-hole final. “So at the beginning of the year, you’re thinking about how you’re going to prepare for that tournament.”

Junior golfers have plenty of competitive options, but the U.S. Junior Amateur always ranks at the top. Not only is it a national championship, but it can open countless doors.

It did for Spieth.

The following year, the PGA Tour’s HP Byron Nelson Championship extended the then-16-year-old a sponsor’s exemption, the first for an amateur in 15 years. The American Junior Golf Association named Spieth its 2009 player of the year, with his Junior Amateur victory likely pushing him ahead of the class.

He got into the next two U.S. Amateurs as well.  When he won the Junior Amateur again in 2011, it not only earned Spieth a third consecutive trip to the U.S. Amateur – where he advanced to the quarterfinals at Erin Hills – but also put him on the radar for the 2011 USA Walker Cup Team.

Although he was the youngest member of the 10-man side that lost at Royal Aberdeen in Scotland, Spieth registered a team-best 2-0-1 record with a pair of 3-and-2 singles victories over Jack Senior and Andy Sullivan, the former having eliminated him in the U.S. Amateur three weeks earlier.

Fulfilling expectations seems to be a trait Spieth has mastered since his first Junior Amateur win. A lot of golfers have a tough time handling pressure, but Spieth channeled his emotions to join Woods as the only multiple champions of the U.S. Junior Amateur by defeating Chelso Barrett in the 36-hole final at Gold Mountain Golf Course in Bremerton, Wash., in 2011.

Spieth understood at an early age that it took more than sheer physical talent to win a USGA championship.

“This is a really tough tournament to win,” said Spieth after his first U.S. Junior Amateur victory. “It’s just because you have to play great golf six days in a row. It’s just so tough to do when you can run into [an opponent] who is just clearing it in one round.”

“If I had gone through without winning this … I wouldn’t look back on it as a bad junior career or anything like that.”

Only a year after his second Junior Amateur triumph, Spieth, fresh off helping the University of Texas to the 2012 NCAA title, got into the U.S. Open as an alternate and edged future Longhorn teammate Beau Hossler for low-amateur honors.

Three years later, Spieth’s name was being engraved on the U.S. Open Trophy.

Now, he’s one PGA Championship victory away from the career grand slam.

Not bad for a 24-year-old kid.

David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at dshefter@usga.org.