IRVING, TEXAS—It's not every day that you get to hit a bucket of balls at the TPC Las Colinas, especially when you're just 16 years old, but Jordan Spieth is not your average 16 year old and he'll be a whole lot more nervous next week at this time as he shares the driving range 2009 Byron Nelson champ Rory Sabbatini.
"I hope he can breathe and stand up," said Jordan's father, Shawn Spieth. "Of course he'll be rattled, we all will."
The Jesuit junior, who has already committed to play at the University of Texas, will be in the field of the HP Byron Nelson Championship after receiving the tournament's first amateur exemption in 15 years, The only three to ever get the invite, Tiger Woods, Justin Leonard and Trip Kuehne.
Jordan was stunned to get the call from the Salesmanship Club. "It was almost a dream come true, I've always wanted to play in this tournament, ever since I was five years old. Obviously I didn't think it would come this soon, but I've been blessed and lucky and when I got that call it was very special."
A special call for a teenager with special talent. Not only did Jordan win the 5A UIL state golf championship last year but also hoisted the cup from the US Junior Amateur Championships at Trump National Golf Course.
"He's intense, he's driven," says Spieth's golf instructor Cameron McCormick. "I don't know that he necessarily feels that anyone can beat him in anything." McCormick has been coaching Jordan for the last four years. Jordan is his fifth student to qualify for the Nelson and isn't a bit surprised with how much success he's had. "He doesn't take his talent for granted. He realizes that the glittering prizes come to those who work hard, rather than resting on his laurels and taking it for granted and taking things easy."
McCormick has been working with Spieth every Friday at historic Brook Hollow Golf Club in Dallas and isn't concerned about Jordan looking past this week's UIL Championship to focus on the Nelson. "I don't know that he'll play the state championship with any prep in mind for this event. The only prep that he has for the state championship is the endeavor to win it, in so doing he'll try to fire on all cylinders at the state championship and carry it out for this week. I see it only as a bonus that he's playing a competitive round before this week," McCormick said.
Of course all of Jesuit High rooted for Jordan to win the state title in Austin, which he did on Friday, but don't be surprised if school attendance is a little thinner next Thursday and Friday so they can watch their friend try to make the cut at the Nelson.
"It's just going to be a blast, in general, walking down the fairways and waving to people saying, look I'm playing the Byron," said Spieth. "That will be a lot of fun and depending on who I'm paired with, it (the gallery) should get even bigger. I really like that. Whether you're doing well or bad, you make a ten footer for birdie, you get so many people cheering, it really makes you more comfortable.
And he'll need all the help he can get to settle downs those nerves against the best competition of his young life.