Every few years, an athlete emerges who transcends the sport, garnering global attention and becoming permanently etched in popular culture. There is Michael Jordan with his fade-away jumpers and iconic stuck-out tongue. Then there is Tiger Woods and his incredible golfing achievements, only for them to be overshadowed later by his even more unbelievable marital transgressions. And of course, who can forget David Beckham, the man who transformed a career in football into an empire spanning fashion, alcohol, watches, fragrances and more.
Only 22, Jordan Spieth, who is already a household name in the world of golf, is ripe to explode into public consciousness. He has broken records – previously thought to be unbeatable – and has racked up tournament wins by the truckloads. It’s safe to say 2015 is the Year of the Spieth.
The Under Armour athlete started playing golf when he was eight during the summer holidays. His parents had enrolled Spieth and his younger brother Steven in the swim club and while Spieth thrived in the water, he was more interested in the golf course that was visible from the swimming pool.
“He kept bugging us about playing golf. He said that’s what he wanted to do. We had three kids to take care of, so we couldn’t all head out to the golf course. So, the following summer, I would drop him off at the club and trusted him to do what he was going to do – play golf,” Spieth’s mother, Chris, recalled in an interview. In spite of his young age, Spieth had the maturity and focus of someone two decades older. He never goofed off, spending hours working on his game.
Today, Spieth finds himself constantly on the move, his golf clubs in tow, to crush the competition in tournaments all around the globe. Next in his iron sights: the SMBC Singapore Open.
The SMBC Singapore Open will be your first time playing in Singapore. Have you an idea of what to expect in January?
I couldn’t be more excited to visit Singapore for the first time and compete in the SMBC Singapore Open. I’m excited to see the culture and experience the city first hand. I am also expecting to really enjoy the golf, as I’ve heard nothing but great things about the Serapong Course at Sentosa Golf Club.
The SMBC Singapore Open is one of Asia’s leading tournaments with a list of champions that include Adam Scott, Ian Poulter and Angel Cabrera. When you tee it up in an event with a great history and great champions, is there extra incentive to win?
Sure, there is definitely an added element that comes when an event has such a great list of past champions. It would be an honour to add my name to that list.
How important is it for you, as world number one, to play internationally?
It’s extremely important for me to play internationally. I enjoy travelling and I would like to continue to help grow the game globally as much as I can.
Has it always been an ambition to reach that pinnacle? How does it feel to be able to call yourself number one in golf?
We’ve put in a lot of hard work these past few years to get here and being number one in the world has been a lifelong dream. It feels great and now I have to continue to work hard to stay there.
Your play this year has been amazing. What would you say is your highlight of 2015?
It’s hard to only name one highlight, but certainly capturing my first major championship win at Augusta National is something I’ll never forget. My putting and mental game have both been a huge part of my success this year. We’ve put in a lot of work on and off the golf course to make sure I was prepared when opportunities were presented throughout the year.
Do you think Asian golfers such as Anirban Lahiri and Hideki Matsuyama have the potential to win Majors in the near future?
Absolutely. The global game is stronger than ever and guys like Hideki and Anirban are proving it.
Do you have a target number of major wins for your career?
I am a big believer in setting and resetting goals as I go along and my goal is to win every time I compete.
Catch Jordan Spieth in the SMBC Singapore Open happening at the Serapong Golf Course in Sentosa, 28 – 31 January.