PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – As I was walking by the front door of Sawgrass Country Club, I noticed Jordan Spieth sitting in his PGA Tour courtesy car, working on his phone. That’s when former player and current PGA Tour caddie (for Webb Simpson) Paul Tesori came up with his wife Michelle and their son.
“Say hi to Uncle Jordan,” Michelle exclaimed, as she handed the 2-½ year old boy to Spieth.
“Hey buddy,” Jordan said as he lightly kissed the young Tesori on the cheek.
Spieth was at Sawgrass CC today in support of Tesori’s foundation (Tesori Family Foundation.) With a special needs sister, Jordan was more than glad to help raise the awareness for Tesori, whose son has Down’s Syndrome.
“You’ve all heard of Jordan’s exploits on the course as a golfer,” Tesori said in front of the assembled crowd. “But I want to talk about him as a man,” he continued. “At 22 years old he’s wise beyond his years, compassionate, helpful and here despite having an early tee time tomorrow!”
Tesori’s passion for helping kids and families touched by Down’s Syndrome is evident. Spieth has looked to Tesori for some guidance on Tour.
“Pauly is one of the most special people I know,” Jordan said after finishing with pictures with the participants. “He down to earth, fantastic man. Anything he needs, I’m there for him.”
Spieth’s commitment to his sister has been well documented and he admits the group of people involved in helping special needs children is a tight knit group.
“There are a lot of similarities in families that have special needs kids and adults,” he explained. “It’s kinda cool to always meet them and share stories of who we are because it is very different.”
Earlier in the day the two-time major champion played 18 holes in a practice round with Colt Knost, Troy Merritt and Ryan Palmer. It appeared they had a friendly game going where holing out was important.
Not sure who walked away a winner, but Spieth was pleased with the golf course, calling it one of his favorites.
“It’s very pure,” he noted. “This is one of my favorite courses in the world. Pete Dye did a great job here, and I enjoy playing his courses in general. You've got to strike the ball extremely well. It plays narrower than it seems.”
While the 22-year old is a favorite almost every time he tees it up, he’s expecially comfortable on the Stadium Course because of the accuracy it demands.
“It's kind of a spot-to-spot type of golf course that requires working the ball both directions and controlling it in the wind,” he explained. “And obviously the closing stretch takes some nerve.”
As expected there were questions about Spieth letting the Masters slip away last month, something he talked about easily, giving Danny Willett credit for making putts when he had to but also admitting that it was tough playing 18 knowing he’d have to slip the Green Jacket on somebody else.
“I obviously knew that that was going to happen when I was teeing off on 18 tee box,” he added. “So I had that entire hole to play and the time after to kind of figure out my emotions. Just like three years ago, when I watched Bubba get the jacket on the 18th green, it's motivation for next year.”
Will his failure to close out his second Masters have and effect if he gets into contention again?
I don't think I have anything to prove,” he said. “I think I've already proven what we're capable of doing when the pressure is on. But yeah, I mean, it's behind me. I'm ready to move on and work back into contention. After a month off, it felt like a bit of a off-season, so it's almost like a new year starting this week.”