UT Golf Coach on Spieth’s Masters Victory: ‘It’s Really Emotional’

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It feels like yesterday we gathered around Texas men’s golf coach John Fields outside the Starbucks in DKR, asking him about Longhorn golf prodigy Jordan Spieth and his place among the greats of Texas golf. After all, he had just played in his first major, the 2014 Masters, and tied for second place as a cherubic 20-year old.

We did the same thing Monday afternoon, but it was for an even bigger story. Jordan Spieth won the Masters yesterday in a rare wire-to-wire victory, ultimately tying the course record at -18, and becoming the youngest winner in history since Tiger Woods crushed the field at Augusta in 1997.

“It’s really emotional to see one of your players go on to do something incredibly special,” Fields said. “I know it was his No. 1 goal. His goals will be changing now.”

UT golf was playing at Pasatiempo Golf Club in Santa Cruz, in the finals of the Western Intercollegiate on Sunday, which the Longhorns would go on to win. But during the Masters, Fields and the team were getting constant updates on where Spieth stood. His decisive win on Sunday wasn’t a shock to Fields, who coached Spieth’s team to a national championship in 2012.

“Am I surprised?’ Absolutely not.”

The difference between the 2014 Masters and this past weekend, Fields said, all came down to the Dallas native’s mental toughness that CBS announcers Jim Nantz and Verne Lundquist hammered on all weekend.

“His attitude was just a little bit sharper, and that’s all it took, because the ability is there,” Fields said. Spieth’s breakout performance in 2014 was marred by a couple of mental errors and the tendency to string together a couple of bad holes. That wasn’t the case at all this past weekend.

The tournament also served as Longhorn golf hero Ben Crenshaw’s swan song, as the two-time Masters winner is retiring from the sport. Crenshaw cried tears of joy during a postgame phone interview, saying, “I’m crying; of course I am. I am so, so happy for him. I am so happy for his family.” He also told PGATour.com that he texted Spieth right after he won the tournament. “I just told him, ‘I can’t wait to welcome you into the Masters Club. You are a Masters champion.”

At the press conference today, Fields said the passing of the torch from one Longhorn great to another felt surreal. “Oddly enough, in 2015 he’s retiring from competition and yet he’s mentoring the next great Longhorn,” he said.

Fields also praised the entire Spieth family, and the drive that Spieth has to eventually become the No. 1 golfer in the world. The UT coach began recruiting Spieth at age 13, and spoke with members of his family this weekend as Spieth made his historic run to his first green jacket.

“For Jordan, it was never about the money, turning pro. It’ll never be about the money. It’s more about competition and being successful at the highest level. And he’s always going to raise the bar. That’s how he is.”

Photo by Anna Donlan.

 

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