Spieth a popular Masters champion among his fellow pros

 

They likely would have been in the parking lot, loading the car trunk, thoughts turned toward the time off or the next tournament.

Only, this was different.

This was Jordan Spieth, the kid they have all embraced for his spirit, for his competitive fire, for his down-home dignity.

"I enjoy being around him. He’s a quality individual," Phil Mickelson said Sunday night as darkness fell at Augusta National.

Playing in the group just ahead of Spieth in the final round of the 79th Masters, Mickelson signed his card — 69 for 14-under 274, four off the lead — but lingered to make sure he offered congratulations.

He wasn’t alone, either. Mickelson’s caddie, Jim Mackay, offered a warm embrace to Spieth’s caddie, Michael Greller, and to the champion. John Wood, the caddie for Hunter Mahan, stuck around and offered to mind the flagstick from the 18th hole. It’s the ultimate "caddie’s trophy" and Greller didn’t want to part with it. But he had media requests from the golf writers, so Greller asked Wood to mind the shop. He was thrilled to do so.

MORE FROM GOLFWEEK

"Great kid," Wood said of Spieth. "Great team."

One by one, the praise for Spieth came, and it seemed right from the heart.

"He’s been a lot of fun to have on the past Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams," Mickelson said. "He’s hard not to like, hard not to pull for the guy."

MORE FROM THE MASTERS

Adam Scott said: "I think he’s a pretty good human being, and from the time I’ve spent with him, I think he’s very genuine and obviously incredibly talented. He seems to take everything in stride for a 21-year-old. I feel that’s quite admirable."

From Zach Johnson, who also stuck around to offer a big hug to Spieth: "There’s something innate with him and those type of individuals, something intangible that probably a lot of athletes occasionally touch, but rarely maintain."

Rory McIlroy, whose bid for a third straight major championship was derailed by Spieth, offered his praise. "He’s way more mature than I was at 21 and a hell of a golfer and great person as well. I’m really happy for him."

In Jupiter, Fla., one of Spieth’s best friends, Justin Thomas, watched the final round on television and was thrilled. but he was also wondering about the upcoming tournament in Hilton Head Island, the RBC Heritage.

"I’m sharing a house with Jordan and Greller," said Thomas. "It ought to be fun."