He’s the nicest, richest and most aggressively receding 22-year-old in world sport. But Jordan Spieth is missing something, says Simon Plumb.
If anyone loves a nickname, it’s sport. Like a “Fah Q” paddle to a high school senior, a nickname is guaranteed to make a jock foam.
Americans, particularly in basketball, perform better than most in this discipline. The Yanks at least use wit – which, more often than not, is cerebrally bound in literary or historical reference: “Dr. Dunkenstein” (Darrell Griffith), “The Owl with the Vowel” (Bill Mlkvy) and “The High Ayatolla of Slamola” (Larry Nance) being some of hoops’ finest.
Nicknames have been a golfing tradition since “The Big Three” of Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player (aka The Golden Bear, The King and The Black Knight) thrust the game into the mainstream almost 60 years ago. Hell, even Phil “F.I.G.J.A.M.” Mickelson (F*** I’m Good, Just Ask Me) has one, even though the diluted moniker you’ll hear on TV is simply “lefty”.
So after a season spent ripping up the records previously owned by Eldrick “Tiger” Woods, how is this one passing Spieth by? Is sport, at it’s most base level, uh, dropping the ball?
Setting a spree of age records on the PGA Tour this year, 22-year-old Masters, US Open and FedEx Cup champion Spieth has presented the golfing world with a star not seen since Woods. So perhaps the difference is image? But even before we got to “Tiger” and his ‘indiscretions’ off the golf course, the Nike man already had a Just-Do-It reputation on the fairways:
The image of Spieth, on the other hand, is whiter-than-white. He makes Mr Clean look like he needs Mr Muscle. In fact, US commentators have actually started letting him do first person work. This is not a joke, watch this video from last week’s Tour Championship:
The balding Texan is also minted. This season alone, he won $25.3 million – a PGA Tour record – so he can certainly afford a shout, or two. In fact, Spieth earned so much this season that the 10% cut of his caddy, Michael Greller, was nearly five times what Tiger banked in winnings.
So when will someone plant a decent nickname on “The Milkybar Kid?”