Jordan Spieth says the turning point so far in his young career was his decision to accept a sponsor's exemption and play with the rank and file of the PGA Tour in an unincorporated U.S. territory in the middle of the Caribbean Sea.
It was a year ago that Spieth, coming off two top-10 finishes on the Web.com Tour, was presented with a choice: Go to Chile and play another Web.com event, possibly securing his status on that tour, or accept a sponsor's exemption into the PGA Tour's opposite-field Puerto Rico Open. Spieth chose the latter option and, while the stars were teeing it up at the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral, quietly finished second. When he finished seventh at Tampa the next week, he suddenly had special temporary membership on the PGA Tour for the remainder of 2013.
"It's just funny to think back to that week," Spieth, fighting a cold, said in his press conference at the WGC-Cadillac at Doral on Wednesday. "I didn't think I'd get status. I was just trying to have a good week because I was playing in a PGA event. I think if anybody gets the opportunity to have an exemption into a PGA Tour event, they should take it no matter where their status is. It's better for them in the long run."
It was certainly better for Spieth. He made nearly $4 million on Tour last year, including a win at the John Deere Classic in July. He lost a playoff at the Wyndham Championship in August, tied for second at the Tour Championship, and ultimately finished eighth in the FedEx Cup playoffs. He is preparing for his first Masters and, this week, his first WGC-Cadillac.
"It's a course nobody's seen yet," he said of Doral's renovated Blue Monster. "I played 27 [holes] yesterday and another nine today. It's a great-looking course. The greens are the greens I grew up on, so I feel very comfortable."
Already this season, Spieth has finished second at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and obliterated Tiger Woods by nine shots when the two were paired together for the first two rounds at Torrey Pines--faltering on Sunday to finish T19. He also finished T4 at Pebble Beach, T12 at Riviera and won three matches at the WGC-Accenture.
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