Nine months after Jordan Spieth signed an endorsement deal with AT&T, the 21-year-old Texan is starring in his first TV commercial with the Dallas-based company.
Only he won’t be pitching a product.
Spieth is supporting the company’s “It Can Wait” campaign against texting and driving.
“I like this more,” Spieth said Monday night after his runner-up finish in the Texas Open that moved him to No. 4 in the world. “This is more genuine, more natural and has a bigger impact. It’s something the entire audience can do. It’s not, ‘Hey, go buy this smartphone.’ This is very simple.”
AT&T began its campaign in 2010 with minimal branding, an aggressive social media campaign and more than 6 million pledges not to text and drive.
The television spot with Spieth is expected to debut during the Par 3 Tournament at the Masters on April 8, and then slide into the rotation. AT&T is among three global sponsors at the Masters, allowing it to air advertisements during limited commercial space.
The spot was Spieth is more like a 30-second documentary, much of it shot at Augusta National when he was playing a practice round earlier this month. He is hitting shots, putting and walking across the Hogan bridge. He also is seen arriving at an airport, in his hotel room and in a coffee shop, with his phone always in his hand.
“I feel so fortunate to be out on tour,” Spieth says in the commercial. “The only downside is being away from my friends and family. So I don’t know what I’d do without my phone. I use it to stay connected. I use it to remind me of what really matters most.”
And then he gets into his car — a Masters courtesy car — and stashes the phone in the glove box.
“That’s why sometimes,” he concludes, “I don’t use it at all.”
Spieth said he had to work hard at not texting and driving when he first got his license, and he has read plenty of tragic stories about accidents from texting while driving, though not from anyone he knew personally.
What he liked about the commercial was how it captured a day in his life when he’s on the road.
“It was intriguing, because it draws people into my personal life — what I’m doing, day in and day out,” he said. “I don’t think it makes much of a different who you have (in the commercial). I can draw an audience in, but it’s something universal. We’re hearing more and more stories about teens ignoring the dangers and adults setting a bad example. It needs to change direction.”
CHANGE IN PLANS: Now that the British Masters is back on the European Tour schedule, it could free Ian Poulter to play at least one of the events in Texas in May.
Poulter is trying to juggle membership on the European Tour and PGA Tour. He typically plays all four events in the finishing stretch of the Race to Dubai, along with the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth and either the Scottish Open or the French Open.
The British Masters is Oct. 8-11 at Woburn, his home club.
Poulter said he might skip Wentworth and instead play Colonial, and perhaps the AT&T Byron Nelson Championship the following week.
“The way the rules went in Europe, I had to play my home event, and that meant Wentworth,” the Englishman said. “That was my home event because there was no British Masters. Wentworth still want me there to play golf, but I need to make a smart decision and not travel as much. I probably will get a couple of extra events here.”
The BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, the flagship event in Europe, is the same week as Colonial.
Poulter has played the BMW PGA Championship 16 times. His best finish is a tie for 10th in 2012. He has missed the cut eight times.
LUCK OF THE DRAW: Those who teed off Thursday morning at the Valero Texas Open when the wind was raging in San Antonio didn’t have much of a shot. No one from that side of the draw broke par and the average score was 78.61, compared with 74.86 for the afternoon draw. Nearly 70 percent of the players who made the cut came from the Thursday afternoon draw.
All of which made Dustin Johnson’s performance that much more impressive.
Johnson opened with a 78 on Thursday morning. He was the only player from that side to finish in the top 10 after bouncing back to make the cut on the number and then going 68-68 on the weekend. He tied for sixth.
His weekend score of 136 was 11 shots better than the field average.
A bad draw due to weather is not unprecedented in this outdoor sport, though it mostly happens at the British Open. At Royal Birkdale, the morning group got the brunt of the wind and rain. There were 19 rounds in the 80s, all from the morning.
Padraig Harrington played in the morning group. He wound up winning the claret jug. It’s not easy. But it can be done.
RADIO DAYS: SiriusXM will have more than 80 hours of talk programming and 24 hours of live coverage at the Masters, plus a bonus this year.
For the first time, SiriusXM will have access to Augusta National’s exclusive archives. The radio network plays to air rarely heard audio on a special Masters preview show at noon Monday. The archives include interviews with Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player from the 1960s, and audio highlights and reflections on Gene Sarazen’s albatross in 1935 and Nicklaus’ famous charge when he won in 1986.
Ben Crenshaw, a two-time champion playing his final masters, will host a new edition of his show at 9 p.m. on the eve of the Masters.
DIVOTS: Jimmy Walker is the only player to twice be in the top five in “strokes gained putting” and “strokes gained tee-to-green” in the same tournament. Those were at the Sony Open and the Texas Open. He won the Sony Open by nine shots and the Texas Open by four shots. … Eight of the 12 winners in stand-alone PGA Tour events in 2015 were among the top 50 in the world the week they won. … The Australian Open will return to The Australian Golf Club, where Jordan Spieth last year closed with a 63 to win his first trip Down Under. The tournament will be Nov. 26-29, the week after Thanksgiving. … Matt Kuchar is playing the Scottish Open at Gullane this year a week before the British Open at St. Andrews. He last played the Scottish Open in 2011 and tied for 10th at Castle Stuart, and the missed the cut a week later at Royal St. George’s.
STAT OF THE WEEK: The three Ryder Cup rookies at Gleneagles who led the U.S. team in points scored — Patrick Reed, Jordan Spieth and Jimmy Walker — are among the top four in the FedEx Cup standings.
FINAL WORD: “Everybody says it’s hard to win at home. It’s hard to win any week — home, away, out of the country. It’s hard.” — Jimmy Walker after his four-shot win in the Valero Texas Open.
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