“Thumbs Up!”

After further review…We can’t move on to another topic before we highlight the amazing play of the 55 professional golfers who completed the 2015 Masters Golf Tournament recently at the hallowed Augusta National course in Augusta, Georgia. From the opening drives of Gary Player (3), Arnold Palmer (4) and Jack Nicklaus (6) —three past champions who account for 13 Masters titles–to the final round of the 79th champion, Jordan Spieth, it was a special tournament.

There have been many Masters Champions who have displayed courage, composure, humility and sportsmanship over these 79 years, but the style and grace of 21-year old Jordan Spieth stands out as a model for all athletes to follow. His thumbs-up gesture at the seventh hole in the final round said it best. Spieth, the leader after the third round with a score 200 (16 under par), was coupled with Justin Rose, who was 12 under par. While one might use the term “partnered-with”, they were not partners in the sense of playing on the same T*E*A*M, but were direct competitors who teed off and walked the course together.

Spieth not only won the tournament, but he set the following records: 1) lowest score (64) in the opening round, 2) lowest score (130) after the first two rounds, 3) lowest score (200) after the third. He was the only golfer to make 28 birdies in the tournament. Aside from that, he happens to be the second-youngest golfer ever to win the Masters. But it was in the fourth round that Spieth displayed a sportsmanlike gesture that truly sets him apart.

In that final round Spieth, laying two, was standing on the edge of the par-four seventh hole waiting for Rose to hit his third shot, which he was playing from the rough. Rose hit a spectacular shot that landed on the green, and the CBS camera panned to where Spieth was standing and captured him giving Rose the thumbs-up.  How many athletes in a highly competitive environment would even think to pay recognition to a competitor’s accomplishment, let alone display it on national television? Rose went on to par that hole, but Spieth shot a five for a bogey.

“That’s what he (Jordan) is”, said his father Shawn. “He appreciates great play as well as other people who play the game right.” Jordan, wearing his Masters green jacket, said in the press conference that followed, “When my competitor is playing, I don’t say ‘I hope he misses’, not at all. I say to myself, ‘I hope he makes it and I will follow by making my shot too.’”

Incidentally, Spieth dropped out of the University of Texas in this, his senior year, to concentrate on golf. By doing so he failed to get his bachelor’s degree…but he did earn his Masters!

Will you treat others with the Spieth Code of sportsmanship?

To contact Jim go to www.jimtunney.com or email him at jim@jimtunney.com.

Three of Jim’s books are available: (“101 Best of TunneySide of Sports,” “It’s the Will, Not the Skill,” and “Impartial Judgment”) are available at the value price of $40.—a $20. discount!   Please email him at the above address.


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