GLENEAGLES, Scotland (AP) — When Jordan Spieth helped the United States win the Junior Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in 2010, he knew he’d have little chance to play in the real thing on the same course four years later.
“I would say, at that time, I thought it would be a million to one,” he said Tuesday.
Those odds appeared just as long at the start of 2013. Spieth had dropped out of the University of Texas in the hope of turning pro, but had no status on any tour.
However, within a year, Spieth had assured himself a PGA Tour card, won the John Deere Classic, played as a captain’s pick in the Presidents Cup and was heralded as one of golf’s next superstars. Securing a place in Tom Watson’s Ryder Cup team was a natural next step.
Now he’s back in familiar territory at Gleneagles, staying in the same team room and playing table tennis like four years ago. Yet there are a few differences.
“The way it’s decorated,” said the 21-year-old Spieth, before adding with a smile. “And the open bar.”
The PGA Centenary course has been modified since 2010, too, but Spieth recognized the layout and some of the shots he hit in the Junior Ryder Cup when he practiced Monday and Tuesday.
Spieth is one of three rookies aiming to regain the Ryder Cup for the Americans in Scotland this week.
Playing in the Presidents Cup, where he won two points in four matches, gave him a feel for the dynamic of a team event. Five of his teammates at Gleneagles played at Muirfield Village, including Matt Kuchar — a likely partner this week.
“All the free stuff you get, just everything that comes with it off the course was such an eye-opening experience,” Spieth said. “Now, having done that, I feel like I’ve been more focused on my golf this week and tackling the course and tackling the matchups.”
Spieth, whose name was spelled incorrectly on the practice range Tuesday, shared the 54-hole lead at the Masters and The Players Championship this year. His ranking rose to as high as No. 7 after the Master
But his form has tailed off, with only two top-10 finishes in his last 13 starts.
Spieth said playing at the Ryder Cup — his favorite event along with the Masters — could invigorate his game, along with playing with Kuchar.
“He’s funny, super-nice guy, funny, great sense of humor,” he said. “So that’s somebody who even with the pressure of the Ryder Cup, I feel like I can be in a light mood around, which may help us both.
“He hits a lot of fairways and a lot of greens. It’s simple, boring golf, which is what you need out here.”
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