If the win was impressive, the Green Jacket address was off the scale. Jordan Spieth had prepared to win the Masters, not to deliver a speech before a global audience of millions. Yet, here he was, just 21 years old, not word perfect, but assured and controlled in his acknowledgements, revealing as he moved along the line of people to thank something of the secret underpinning to his astonishing success.
There is in the professional life of a golfer a tight coterie of experts, coach, caddie, trainer, agent, etc, who combine to give the player a fighting chance on Sundays. Spieth thanked them all. And then there are those who contribute little materially but bind the whole. This would be Spieth’s family – and that is where the real story is to be told.
His father Shaun, mother Chris, brother Steven, who is in the basketball programme at the prestigious Brown University in Rhode Island, and even his grandfather were among the assembled guests on the lawn, seated at the rear behind rows of Green-Jacketed members, conspicuous by their obvious lack of belonging.
The one member of the Spieth family not in attendance is at the heart of the tale and fundamental in making the second youngest Masters champion the well-adjusted individual he is.
Ellie Spieth is 14 years old, autistic and a profound source of inspiration to the family, who, not untypically when a child with special needs enters the piece, found their lives enriched in ways they could never have imagined.
“Ellie certainly is the best thing that’s happened in our family,” he said. “It helps put things in perspective that I’m lucky to play on tour and to compete with these guys, it’s been a dream come true. I definitely attribute a lot of that to her.
“She’s the funniest person in our family. It’s humbling to see her and her friends and the struggles they go through each day that we take for granted, where it seems easy for us and it’s not for them. At the same time, they are the happiest people in the world. And when I say ‘they,’ I speak to special needs kids. My experience with her and with her friends, it’s fantastic. I love being part of it, helping support it.”
Predictions value victory at £15m in new or augmented endorsements this year, a proportion of which will be pumped into the Jordan Spieth Family Foundation, a charity that provides support to children with special needs, military families and junior golf programmes. He can also pay off the $2.3m mansion he bought recently in his home city of Dallas, Texas.
Of all the phone duties that came his way in the post-victory scramble, the call to his sister was the one he was looking forward to most. She might not discern the significance of the victory or place the Masters in the wider context of golf or sport, but she understands the simple concept of winning, as he explained after his defeat in the play-off in Houston the week before.
“She’s going to probably tell me to just bring something home, bring a present home. I’m sure she was watching and was excited when she saw how happy I was with my family there at the end. Probably got a little jealous at that point. But she’s just going to be happy that I won.”
Spieth, who is engaged to his high-school sweetheart, is scheduled to play the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head, starting on Thursday, his sixth tournament in seven weeks. You would assume the sheer scale of this achievement might catch up with him at some point. Then again, there is little in the career of Spieth that follows convention.
His win at the Masters took him to No 2 in the world rankings. Only Rory McIlroy stands between him and his goal of becoming the world’s best player. That sets up the summer nicely.
five jordan spieth facts you didn’t know about eth facts
1. The name Spieth comes from Middle High German and means either “successful”, “speedy” or “late”.
2. As a four-year-old Texas Rangers fan in the crowd, Spieth tried to catch a ball, lost it in the lights and had his two front teeth knocked out.
3. Won the John Deere Classic two weeks before his 20th birthday in 2013, becoming the first teenage winner on the PGA Tour since 1931.
4. Only the second player after Tiger Woods to have won the US junior amateur championship more than once.
5. Won two and a half points from his four matches at the Ryder Cup last year, losing to Graeme McDowell in the singles after being three up with nine holes to play.