Spieth or Day: Who should we root for on Sunday at the PGA?
Let me preface this whole piece by laying out the most simple of journalistic rules: Don’t cheer from the press box.
That rule, in large, is B.S.
Every writer on the planet, from Spencer Hall to the lowliest of clickbate interns, is rooting for one side or the other. It might be for the story, their favorite, the best quote or the one that makes life easiest.
That line is crossed at each tournament, each game and each championship more than the PGA Tour’s pace of play policy.
So, as a journalist, I don’t know what to do. Spieth or Day? The kid or the Aussie? Which way do I go?
I’ve seen Jason Day try to win a major since the last time the PGA Championship was held here in Kohler, Wis. I’ve watched that powerful swing, that determined face, that "I’ll never show my cards" mentality for five years. At each major stop he’d leave a bit disappointed, but with more knowledge than he’d arrived with.
Day has never won a major (you know that), but besides Rory McIlroy, no young golfer has proven himself more in the big four than this guy.
Frankly, he’s easy to like. He’s kind, has a fun and engaging family — the kind you wish you could invite over for wine once a month and share stories with as the kids frolicked in the backyard (Note: I’ve never typed “frolicked” until today).
And of course, Day has the 2-shot lead heading into the final round, the future of Australian golf that we all thought might be Adam Scott (who has his major but won’t end up doing what Day will do, at least we don’t think).
Day should win on Sunday. He should. He has prepared the dinner to perfection, and the plates, the napkins, the wine glasses and the eager guests are anticipating what is coming next.
But then … Jordan Spieth.
My goodness, what more can you say about this kid?
I drove to dinner on Saturday night with my parents, headed to a tucked-away winery in East Texas that nobody knows about, and the conversation of "greatest season ever" was brought up (and yes, this is what happens when your entire family is obsessed with sports). Tiger’s 2000 season was quickly pinned atop the argument when my dad mentioned, "nobody will ever do what he did that year again."
I thought, nobody should be doing what Spieth is doing right now. Not in 2015. Not with the talent pool as deep as it’s ever been in golf history.
We never thought this would happen again.
This is amazing. It really is. Win or lose on Sunday, Spieth has done something to the golfing community that is the equivalent of going on a 10-month cleanse.
He has reminded us how much fun golf viewing can be. Screw his personality or our media bias of him. Spieth has reminded us that every so often, golf, a game impossible to 99.9999 percent of the population, can be perfected.
When Spieth hit his tee shot on 16 on Saturday, I thought for a split second what might happen if he played the final three holes 3-under. Looking at the leaderboard, I saw the possibility of a final group spot if all the cards fell his way, but when his second shot ended up 60 feet away, that idea dissolved. Nobody birdies 17 and 18 at Whistling Straits, not down the stretch like this when you have to do it. You have a better chance of getting a straight answer out of Tiger Woods about the future of his game.
But Spieth did it. The kid pulled it off — three straight birdies. He somehow got all the things clicking at the exact time he needed them to click and closed out his third round as perfectly as he could to land his spot in the last group in another major. How he does it, only Spieth will know, but he pulled all the right strings to make the puppet dance to perfection.
So who do you root for?
The guy with everything to lose, a major just a fingertip from his reach after being so close to tasting it in the past?
Or a kid going for history, attempting to toss his hat into the "greatest golf seasons ever" conversation when a single-blade razor would still do for beard control?
I’m torn. But I’m excited. This PGA final round couldn’t come soon enough, and no matter who walks away on top, we will all be happy with the 2015 major championship season. It’ll be a while until we see four like these.