FORT WORTH — In the month since his record-breaking 2015 Masters victory, Dallas’ Jordan Spieth has soaked up plenty of interesting experiences, but as the PGA Tour heads into its annual two-week North Texas swing, he is eager to try out a new one — conquering golf hero soaking up the acclaim of his adoring public.
“It’s going to be awesome,” he said via telephone. “I will be basking in the moment.”
Not since the first post-Masters visit of Tiger Woods to the Byron Nelson Tournament in 1997 and Annika Sorenstam’s historic appearance at the Colonial event in 2003 has there been such electricity and a demand for tickets as there is this year for the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth which begins Thursda, plus the AT&T Byron Nelson Championship the following week at the TPC Four Seasons Resort in Irving.
“I’ve been hearing some crazy numbers for tickets,” Spieth said. “I’m going to be with a lot of friends, but it will be tough too because I won’t have time to practice and do things I normally do.”
Both tournaments report record ticket and sponsorship sales thanks to the post-Masters appearance of the Dallas native who first starred in the local junior and amateur golf ranks before being cast after his Masters triumph as one of the new faces of American golf.
“We are up 25 percent in ticket sales over last year and we were up last year over the year before, when we overflowed our available parking for the first time,” said Colonial tournament director Michael Tothe.
“The combination of having our local Masters champion Jordan Spieth and our defending champion Adam Scott has brought a huge demand, even though we don’t use the word sellout.”
The Dallas Jesuit High School alumni association, of which Spieth is now the most famous member, paid top dollar to rent out the entire swimming pool complex next to the first tee at Colonial to host all of his fellow alumni for food and drinks and general Spieth watching.
He will be the first reigning Masters champion to play at Colonial since Phil Mickelson in 2010 and the first at the Nelson since Trevor Immelman in 2008.
“Sales are already up 10-15 percent over last year,” said Byron Nelson tournament director Jon Drago. “All of our pro-ams are totally sold out and we only have a few luxury suites left. If sales continue on the pace they’re on, we have a chance for our largest crowd ever,” (which was previously Woods, in 1997).
The expansive Nelson course can accommodate more than 100,000 fans on a single day. The traditional, tree-laden Colonial course can have half that number, but either way it will be a two-week victory celebration like North Texas golf hasn’t since in years, if ever.
“The Nelson crowds have always been very interested and supportive of Jordan, but it will be interesting to see how the Masters victory will change that,” said Jordan’s dad Shawn Spieth.
“We have friends here and people coming in from all over the country,” he added. “Beds and wheels for family and friends coming into town is the biggest challenge right now.”
Spieth has already gotten a small taste of what to expect when strangers have come up to him while he’s been dining with friends at home in Dallas. He’s only been seen at two public events, a Dallas Mavericks NBA playoff game and the Association of Country Music awards at AT&T Cowboys Stadium, neither where he was the primary focus, so most local people who have followed his career from the beginning haven’t had a chance to see him in person.
“I’m approaching these like a major,” Spieth said. “I’d like to try to make a statement there.”
He has already committed to host the Byron Nelson junior golf clinic May 25, where it’s possible he could be wearing his Masters green jacket. He will also be hosting his good friend golfer Justin Thomas and Spieth caddy Michael Greller in the new multi-million dollar Dallas bachelor pad he purchased at the beginning of the year.
Spieth said both he and his family have been doing their part to add to the record ticket demand.
“Let’s say a couple dozen, but it will be much more than that,” Spieth said about the number of tickets he and his parents are acquiring for the Colonial and Byron Nelson.
But when the first Dallas-Fort Worth resident Masters Champion since Ben Hogan in 1953 finally plays at home, nothing is too good or too big for a Texas-sized Spieth celebration.