Jordan Spieth sits behind a wooden desk on the interview room stage, two bright lights shining almost directly on him. He smiles and laughs and answers 25 questions.
Had you been in the room you would have walked away thinking that Spieth is gracious, humble, smart, respectful, funny, classy, poised and – you’d probably think of something else.
Spieth is such an interview-room regular that Augusta National Golf Club could charge him rent. He was there Thursday because he shot 64 and he’s there Friday because he shot 66. His 36-hole total breaks by one stroke the record Raymond Floyd set 39 years ago.
“It’s cool,” says Spieth. “Any time you can set a record here is pretty awesome.”
He says awesome, and there are other testaments to his youth. He bumps fists with caddie Michael Greller, who is 37. He flips his ball with an easy underhand motion, and Greller catches it with one hand. A minute or so later Greller lobs it back and with one hand Spieth snatches it out of the air. You almost expect a Frisbee.
Yet the only way you know Spieth doesn’t turn 22 until late July is because his biography says so.
He appears fully formed. He already has his own foundation. The Jordan Spieth Charitable Trust offers time and financial assistance to, and raises awareness for, children with special needs, military families and junior golf. Spieth’s younger sister, Ellie, who lives with the family in Dallas, has special needs. She did not make the trip to Augusta.
“She’s the funniest member of our family,” says Spieth. “I really love when she’s able to be out there, love spending time with her. It’s humbling to see her and her friends and the struggles they go through each day that we take for granted.”
Spieth adds: “But at the same time they are the happiest people in the world, and when I say they, I speak to special-needs kids. Any experience with her and in her class and with her friends, it’s fantastic. I love being a part of it and helping support it.”
When an athlete such as Spieth emerges, a grateful sport bows its head and counts its money. Yet Spieth might not be entirely pure. He left Texas before the conclusion of his sophomore year. But who among us would criticize an athlete, regardless of his or her sport, for being one or 1 1/2 and done?
In 2014 Spieth led the Masters after 54 holes and finished in a tie for second. Despite his quick start, does he think about being unable to hang onto the lead? How does he escape the pressure?
“Going to be just hanging with friends and family and taking it easy and hopefully acting like nothing’s going on,” he says.
But he’s supposed to struggle. All young players are.
“I don’t know,” says Spieth. “Seems like there’s been quite a few guys that have had success at a young age here. I think Seve (Ballesteros) won it when he was 23 and Tiger at 21. And obviously I’m not comparing myself to those guys in any way. But I’m saying it’s only taken them a time or two to figure it out to get into contention and to close out the tournament.”
Spieth leads Charlie Hoffman by 5 strokes. He’s not close to closing the tournament out.
But on Friday all things Augusta National felt like his – his interview room, his leader board, his tournament and his fans.
“I got standing ovations walking to multiple greens,” says Spieth. “I mean, that’s something you can only dream about. It’s Friday, too. I’d like to have the same thing happening on Sunday. Got a lot of work to do before that happens, but to see the patrons here are what make this tournament so special, and they were great.”
Spieth says No. 16 “was cool, a sea of people.”
As he approached the green the applause rang long and loud. It felt like a coronation.
You’d say: All rise. But fans already had.
Sorensen: 704-358-5119; email@example.com; Twitter: @tomsorensen