The Loop

At 16, Spieth looks to test himself against the best

May 18, 2010

IRVING, Texas -- Sixteen-year-old Jordan Spieth is in the middle of a whirlwind couple of weeks. The Dallas Jesuit high school golfer, considered by most to be the No. 1 junior player in the country, is less than a week removed from walking away with a share of the Texas high school golf championship.

After enjoying the spoils of his victory, Spieth had to switch gears and concentrate on a more pressing matter this week: playing with Justin Leonard during Tuesday's practice round at the HP Byron Nelson Championship.

"[Justin] invited me to play with him and a couple other guys today," Spieth said. "The advice he was giving me, the pin misses, and so forth, it helps. But he's just a great guy who does anything to help."

While most high school juniors were hitting the books in preparation for final exams Tuesday, Spieth was rubbing elbows with some of the biggest names in the sport, preparing for his foray into the world of professional golf.

The HP Byron Nelson Championship made it all possible for Spieth by extending a sponsor's exemption to the Dallas native. The event isn't known for handing out exemptions to amateur players, let alone golfers who've yet to celebrate their 18th birthday.

The last time the tournament did offer an exemption to a player still in high school was back in 1993, when the event gave a player by the name of Tiger Woods a spot in the tournament. Woods missed the cut.

"Well, hopefully we'll change that," Spieth said, when hearing of how Tiger played back in '93. He'll certainly have the gallery behind him. While most of the local Dallas professionals will have larger-than-usual followings, Spieth's gallery of family and high school friends from the area could top them all.

"From what I've heard it's going to be like nothing I've seen before," Spieth said. "I don't think they're shutting [school] down, but they might as well."

-- Jonathan Wall