Without question, Jordan Spieth has emerged as one of the most influential faces in professional golf during his short-but-stellar stint as a PGA Tour competitor.
Spieth, a Dallas resident who is the defending champion at this week’s Dean & DeLuca Invitational in Fort Worth, has won two major championships and nine PGA Tour titles in less than five full seasons on golf’s top circuit. He has accumulated more than $28.7 million in career earnings and, at 23, has spent 26 weeks atop the world golf rankings.
Five of his wins occurred in 2015, when Spieth flirted with a single-season Grand Slam and earned PGA Tour Player of the Year honors. That season, he became the first golfer in 13 years to make more money in a calendar year from on- and off-course income (a reported $53 million, per Golf Digest) than Tiger Woods ($48.5 million).
When he begins Thursday’s title defense at Colonial Country Club, Spieth will do so as a golfer who moves the ratings needle for PGA Tour telecasts. He will be competing at a venue where he has a history of success, with one victory (2016), a runner-up effort (2015) and no finish below 14th in four career appearances at Hogan’s Alley. Spieth’s 67.31 career scoring average at Colonial is the best in tournament history for any competitor with at least two appearances.
To folks in Fort Worth, Spieth is the latest in a long line of native Texans to place his name on Colonial’s Wall of Champions. To others, he might be best-known as a Masters champion, a generous philanthropist, an ardent Dallas Cowboys fan or simply the most marketable player on the PGA Tour.
The truth is that Jordan Spieth, who led the University of Texas to an NCAA championship in his lone season as a college golfer (2012), is many different things to many different people. Above all else, peers consider him genuine and likeable.
“He’s mature beyond his years and he’s great for the game,” said longtime Colonial competitor J.J. Henry, a Fort Worth resident and former TCU standout. “He’s truly the All-American kid, a really great guy who remembers where he comes from.”
What follows is a look at the A-B-Cs of Jordan Spieth, this year’s defending champion at Colonial:
A: Most golf fans associate Spieth with his recurring success at Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters Tournament. Spieth has played in the event four times, with one record-setting title run (2015) bracketed by a pair of runner-up finishes (2014, 2016). He’s been part of the final-round storyline in all four seasons, including last month’s 11th-place finish, and owns a share of the tournament scoring record (18-under par). Spieth set the tournament record for birdies (28) while winning the green jacket in 2015, at age 21, and considers it a course that brings out the best in him.
“It really suits my eye and, as a kid growing up, it was my favorite tournament in the world,” Spieth said. “Now, as a professional, it’s still my favorite tournament. … and I’ve had a chance to win it four times. I didn’t know going into my first one if I would have five chances in my life.”
B: Spieth is the older brother of a special-needs sister, Ellie, who was born with a neurological disorder and is seven years younger. The two are very close and Spieth has spent time as a volunteer at her school. He said growing up with Ellie has been instrumental in keeping him grounded and inspired in his daily life.
“I love spending time with her. ... Ellie certainly is the best thing that’s happened in our family,” Spieth said. “For us, it’s so special to see her development and how she can conquer struggles we all take for granted. Because of Ellie, it has always been a priority to me to be in tune to the needs of others.”
C: A native Texan, Spieth considers victories in the Lone Star State special achievements, and his first came last year at Colonial. He prevailed with a closing 65 to defeat Harris English by three strokes. He also joined a list of native Texans on Colonial’s Wall of Champions that includes Ben Hogan, Ben Crenshaw, Lee Trevino and Homero Blancas.
“The first one came in Fort Worth. For me, that’s very special, being a Dallas-Fort Worth Texan,” Spieth said. “No matter what happens in the next 30 years of my career, this will be one of the most important days that I’ve ever had. … This golf course is one of my favorite ones we play all year. The tournament’s always top notch.”
D: Spieth’s celebrity status is most evident in Dallas, his hometown. He went to high school at Dallas Jesuit, still lives in the city and received a significant shoutout from AT&T, one of his corporate partners, at the conclusion of his breakthrough 2015 season: a mosaic of Spieth, made up entirely of golf balls, spread across Dallas’ Main Street Gardens on Oct. 28. The display required 24,152 balls and celebrated his status as the 2015 FedEx Cup champion, a two-event major champion (2015 Masters, 2015 U.S. Open) and his emergence as the world’s top-ranked golfer.
You can’t have a conversation about golf without his name coming up. And he’s very approachable. If Jordan could be the face of golf for the next 10 years, like Tiger was for so long, we’d all shake our heads up and down and say, ‘Yep, golf is in a good place.’
Michael Tothe, Colonial tournament director
E: Spieth has ongoing agreements to endorse AT&T, Under Armour and Coca-Cola. The values are not publicly disclosed, but Golf Digest has estimated the value at $30 million per year. The AT&T logo is on his golf bag, and he wears Under Armour apparel on the course. In the golf world, Spieth is considered the game’s most marketable active player.
“You can’t have a conversation about golf without his name coming up,” Colonial tournament director Michael Tothe said. “And he’s very approachable. If Jordan could be the face of golf for the next 10 years, like Tiger was for so long, we’d all shake our heads up and down and say, ‘Yep, golf is in a good place.’”
F: Spieth is big on philanthropy, particularly in his efforts with the Jordan Spieth Family Foundation. The foundation offers financial support and seeks to grow awareness for special-needs youth, junior golf and the military. Spieth has been expanding the foundation since its debut in 2014. Among the Tarrant County agencies that benefit, based on the foundation website, are Cook Children’s hospital and The First Tee of Fort Worth. Other projects that benefit include Special Olympics, Camp Seek, Northern Texas PGA Junior Golf and the Boys and Girls Club.
G: Spieth is quick to inject the word “we” into post-round assessments of his performance, which is a nod to caddie Michael Greller. Before the two joined forces in 2013, Greller was a sixth-grade math and science teacher at Narrows View Intermediate School in Gig Harbor, Wash. The two met when Greller worked for Spieth at the 2011 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship and they have been inseparable since Greller accepted an offer to become a full-time caddie when Spieth began the 2013 season playing on sponsor’s exemptions because he did not have full-time status on the PGA Tour. Spieth said he’s happy to have Greller’s input and upbeat attitude between the ropes.
“I know physically that my game is good enough to get me there,” Spieth said. “The hardest part is managing the situation and managing the mental side. Michael helps with that.”
H: Hoops is a big deal in the Spieth family. His mother, Chris, played college basketball at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pa. Spieth’s younger brother, Steven, averaged 17.3 points per game last season as a senior at Brown while earning All-Ivy League honors. Spieth regularly attends Dallas Mavericks games during the off-season and has developed a friendship with Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry, an avid golfer and fellow Under Armour endorser. But the biggest indicator is his first name. In a 2015 interview, Spieth acknowledged that his parents, Shawn and Chris, named him after basketball standout Michael Jordan.
“He was my dad’s favorite athlete,” Spieth said. “And then when my dad met him at the  Ryder Cup, he was trembling.”
I: Spieth’s inner circle of career-shapers all have Dallas-Fort Worth connections. Spieth bounces business-related decisions off his father, Shawn, and agent Jay Danzi, who is based in Fort Worth. His longtime swing coach is Cameron McCormick, the director of instruction at Trinity Forest Golf Club in Dallas. Damon Goddard, a Dallas resident, is Spieth’s trainer. His sports performance chiropractor and nutrition advocate is Troy Van Biezen of Dallas.
J: A prodigy as a junior golfer, Spieth began working with McCormick as a 12-year-old. He won the U.S. Junior Amateur title in 2009 and 2011, joining Tiger Woods as the tournament’s only multiple winners. He also finished as runner-up at the Junior PGA Championship in 2008 and 2009. Spieth was selected as the American Junior Golf Association’s Player of the Year in 2009 as a 15-year-old.
K: A promising baseball pitcher as a youngster, Spieth recorded his last “K” when he struck out his final batter at 12 or 13. He isn’t sure of the exact date but remembered that breaking the news about his sports aspirations to his father, who played college baseball at Lehigh, took some intestinal fortitude.
“It was tough telling him, ‘I just want to specialize in golf now,’” Spieth said.
L: Although he plays golf right-handed, Spieth was a left-handed pitcher and quarterback who shined on youth-league baseball and football teams. In golf circles, that makes Spieth the opposite of Phil Mickelson: a natural right-hander who learned to play the game left-handed. Spieth’s father and brother also are left-handed.
That gave me a belief that I could do it. Feeling that kind of pressure and being able to get it around really helped. That made me feel like [winning] wasn’t too far-fetched. That as long as I stay focused on me against the golf course, I’ve got a chance.
Jordan Spieth, on the significance of having instant success in his first PGA Tour round as a 16-year-old at the 2010 Byron Nelson
M: By definition, Spieth’s home in Dallas qualifies as a mansion. In December, the 16,655-square-foot dwelling was valued at $7.1 million. It features five bedrooms, six bathrooms, two half-baths and a 12-car garage. Among the amenities: a firepit, a spiral staircase, an elevator, a swimming pool, an indoor basketball court and a private guest quarters with a separate entrance. Spieth bought the house from fellow touring pro Hunter Mahan.
N: Spieth introduced himself to the professional golf world as a 16-year-old while competing on a sponsor’s exemption at the 2010 Byron Nelson in Irving. A junior in high school at the time, he made the cut and tied for 16th at the Four Seasons Resort. By comparison, Tiger Woods and Justin Leonard both missed the cut at the Nelson when competing on sponsor’s exemptions as high-school invitees. Paul Earnest, the Four Seasons’ director of golf, recalled watching a “scrawny” teenager with a loose swing but “a deep-seated belief that he belonged in the field and that he could win. … What still sticks with me today is that image of a non-intimidated kid.”
In many ways, Spieth said, keeping his nerves in check while posting a 1-under par score through 10 holes during a rain-shortened effort on his first day between the ropes at a PGA Tour event laid the mental groundwork that has helped him thrive in his future career.
“That gave me a belief that I could do it,” Spieth said. “Feeling that kind of pressure and being able to get it around really helped. That made me feel like [winning] wasn’t too far-fetched. That as long as I stay focused on me against the golf course, I’ve got a chance.”
O: From his habit of using titles to refer to elders (Ben Crenshaw, for instance, is always “Mr. Crenshaw”), to his conservative wardrobe, to his course-management style of play, Spieth embodies old-school values in an era marked by spotlight-seeking professional athletes.
“He’s just special. They don’t make them like that very often,” said former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, a frequent golf partner in recent years at courses in the DFW area. “He’s a great person. That’s the thing that’s exciting. To me, he’s an athlete who’s playing golf and he’s just got a great quality about him and who he is. He’s got a great future ahead of him.”
P: Spieth is considered one of the top putters on the PGA Tour, particularly from longer distances, and has the stats to back that claim. During his breakthrough 2015 season, Spieth one-putted 12 percent of the greens he found in regulation. The tour average that season was 7 percent. He three-putted only 5 percent of the time, well below the tour average of 8 percent.
This season, Spieth is making 58.9 percent of his putts from 10 feet, ranking 10th among tour participants. He’s converting at a 19.4 clip on putts between 20 and 25 feet, ranking 15th on tour. Spieth displayed similar skills during his final-round charge to win last year’s Colonial title, making birdie putts from distances of 34, 21, 20, 4 and 3 feet while posting a 30 on the back nine. Spieth also buried a 45-footer for par at No. 8 in his Sunday round.
Q: Spieth has been a quick learner on the PGA Tour. He became the circuit’s youngest winner in 82 years by prevailing as a 19-year-old at the 2013 John Deere Classic. That same year, Spieth also became only the second golfer to qualify for the season-ending Tour Championship after beginning the season with no status as a PGA Tour participant. The other player was Tiger Woods, in 1996.
He’s quintessential Texas, for sure, in terms of golf. And I think he wears it well.
Paul Earnest, director of golf at the Four Seasons resort, on Jordan Spieth
R: A two-time competitor on U.S. Ryder Cup teams (2014, 2016), Spieth has posted a 4-3-2 record in the biennial competition. He contributed 2.5 points to last year’s 17-11 win by the U.S., which marked the most-lopsided victory by the Americans in 35 years. Asked about Spieth’s knack for stepping up at key moments in a team environment, U.S. captain Davis Love III said: “He says the right thing, does the right thing, fits right in. … Every time I’ve been around him, great things happen.”
S: Among contemporaries, few can match Spieth’s skill as a shot-maker. He headed into mid-May ranked second among tour players in greens in regulation (73.9 pct.) and third in scoring average (69.4). His ability to consistently find the flagstick has triggered an average of 4.8 birdies per round, ranking second among tour competitors.
Such stats are crucial at Colonial because the venue features small greens and dogleg fairways that force players to move the ball in both directions on approach shots. Unlike many power players, Spieth embraces a shot-maker’s mindset while operating between the gallery ropes.
“I prefer trying to shape it. I play my best golf when I swing and my ball flight produces movement, one way or the other,” Spieth said. “Normally, if I’m hitting a draw that covers five to 10 yards, I start having great control of the club face at impact. I like to shape it. On the golf course, if can I line up and I know the ball is going to do one thing, it’s a lot easier.”
T: A noted fan of country-western music with a preference for George Strait tunes, Spieth revels in his Texas roots. He also shares traits with three legendary golfers from the Lone Star State (Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Ben Crenshaw) in the estimation of Dan Jenkins, the renowned author and golf writer from Fort Worth. During Spieth’s record-setting performance at the 2015 Masters, Jenkins wrote on his Twitter account (@danjenkinsgd): “Jordan Spieth might be the perfect Texas pro: the focus and will of Hogan, the likability of Nelson, and the putting stroke of Crenshaw.”
In regard to Spieth, the Four Seasons’ Earnest said: “He’s quintessential Texas, for sure, in terms of golf. And I think he wears it well.”
U: Among his endorsement agreements, Spieth’s deal with Under Armour is most evident during tour telecasts. The company has an exclusive, head-to-toe apparel deal and the UA logo is the only one that appears on Spieth’s shirt or cap. Many tour players wear multiple logos in both locations.
V: Spieth still dates his high-school sweetheart, Annie Verret, who works as an event coordinator for The First Tee of Greater Dallas.
W: Spieth earns praise from peers for his work ethic, which included an off-season swing tweak that he credits for producing more “stress-free pars” in clutch situations this season. He also makes notes on his cellphone during and after rounds for future reference.
“When something went really well that day, I’ll write, ‘I felt the pressure. This is my two swing thoughts I had in my head and stayed true to them. And it produced this ball flight,’” Spieth said. “I think that’s important to do because that changes over time. It changes, event to event and shot to shot.”
X: The X-factor for Spieth, in terms of a player to emulate as a junior golfer, has always been Tiger Woods. A multi-sport athlete as a youth, Spieth said Woods’ athleticism “made it cool” to focus on golf when he reached junior high school rather than dividing his time on other sports.
Y: In an era of power players, Spieth (6 foot 1, 185 pounds) is far from the longest hitter on the PGA Tour in terms of yardage. As of mid-May, he averaged 292.2 yards in driving distance, ranking No. 81 among tour competitors. Spieth never has threatened the 300-yard mark, which is becoming more common each year for tour competitors. But he typically ranks high in driving accuracy, a major reason why he ranks second among tour players in greens in regulation (73.8 percent).
Z: During tournament play, Spieth marks each of his Titleist Pro V1x golf balls with a “Z.” He said it stands for “zero in” and helps him to focus on the target before each shot.