Jordan Spieth doesn’t carelessly arrive at any decision.
Think of his entertaining, educational discussions with caddie, Michael Greller, before pulling the trigger on a shot. Listen to him discuss his strategic movements around Augusta National Golf Club during the Masters. Hear him respectfully and thoughtfully tackle a variety of topics during his many meetings with the media.
From the earliest of days on the PGA Tour, when he quickly had stardom arrive on his doorstep after winning his first of 12 PGA Tour titles in the 2013 John Deere Classic at age 19, Spieth remained measured in his approach to any course of action. He did not, for instance, go willy-nilly and rush into putting his signature to partnership deals shortly after leaving his teenage years.
Along with a small group of advisors, he thoroughly considered his options and a roll call of his sponsors impressively speaks to his methods – AT&T, Under Armour, Rolex, Titleist and NetJets.
Spieth didn’t go changing his ways despite the riches pouring in and major titles piling up – the 2015 Masters, the 2015 U.S. Open and the 2017 British Open. He became the world No. 1 and won the FedEx Cup and he was still the same guy.
Thus, it came as no surprise to learn Spieth did meticulous research before deciding to add another sponsorship association to his resume. Even picked PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan’s brain. Looked into his crystal ball and considered the future and the possibilities to grow the game. Studied the current landscape.
The result? On Wednesday, Spieth and FanDuel announced a multi-year relationship which will have him being featured in national television commercials and providing content for social media as well as responsible gaming initiatives for FanDuel, one of the largest daily fantasy sites and sportsbooks in the country. FanDuel also will support the Jordan Spieth Family Foundation.
“In my rookie year, this wouldn’t have been something that would have been on the radar given where sports gaming was back then,” Spieth said in a phone call with Golfweek. “But look at where it has gone the last couple of years. It was pretty exciting to look into it.
“Golf has a unique space to get into (gaming) to help bring more eyeballs into the sport, bring (other) sports fans into being golf fans, and with FanDuel being the biggest and doing the best job at responsible gambling, it made a lot of sense.”
Gambling on sports in the U.S. exploded after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal ban on state-authorized sports betting in May of 2018. The decision swung open the door for states to allow betting on sporting events.
The PGA Tour quickly embraced legalized sports gaming, emphasizing its potential to grow the fanbase; FanDuel is an official sports betting partner with the PGA Tour. Spieth said Monahan convinced him golf could not refuse to welcome gaming considering its steady growth throughout the sports world. Spieth said the Tour’s movement into gaming “gave us the confidence as individual players to want to search out and look for opportunities in this space.”
“It was one of those things where you would have thought you were walking on pins and needles a few years ago without the Tour’s involvement, but then with the Tour stepping straight in, it’s given a lot of players the confidence and the opportunity to look into this space,” he said. “I just happen to be lucky that FanDuel had interest me.”
Jordan Spieth tees off on the 14th hole during the second round of the WGC-FedEx-St. Jude Invitational at TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tennessee. Photo by Joe Rondone/The Commercial Appeal
As for his work on the course, Spieth’s resurgent 2021 continues this week at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey, home to the Northern Trust, the first of three events in the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
After struggling for most of 2018 and then in 2019 and 2020, he fell to No. 92 in the Official World Golf Rankings earlier this year – his lowest rank since 2012. He grinded his way through the slump and has returned to his prominent stature in the golf world with nine top 10s in 16 events this year, including victory in the Valero Texas Open to snap a nearly four-year winless stretch, runner-up finishes in the British Open and Charles Schwab Challenge, and third-place finishes in the Masters and the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
He’s No. 12 in the world and No. 2 in the FedEx Cup standings. Spieth won the 2015 FedEx Cup, led going into the 2017 final playoff event before finishing second to Justin Thomas, finished seventh in 2013, ninth in 2016, and 15th in 2014. But he hasn’t been to the playoffs finale at East Lake in Atlanta the past three years; at No. 2 he’s guaranteed a spot this year.
And he can’t wait.
“You just take a different game plan that you do during the rest of the season, because it’s almost like the three tournaments are 12 rounds in a major,” he said.
After the playoffs, Spieth will rest – for two weeks. At No. 7 in the U.S. Ryder Cup standings – the top 6 automatically make the team that will face Europe at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin the last week of September and U.S. captain Steve Stricker has six discretionary selections – Spieth is more than likely to be playing in his fourth Ryder Cup. He made his debut in 2014, was on the victorious squad in 2016 and was in Paris in 2018.
And, again, he can’t wait.
“I would say the Ryder Cup was my No. 1 kind of lofty goal coming into this calendar year,” he said. “I was pretty far down the list. I would have missed out on it last year, potentially, depending on if the majors would have been in the same place and how those would have shaped out. But I almost felt like I got a little bit lucky with an extra half a year to a year to try and make the team (due to the COVID pandemic postponing the 2020 Ryder Cup to 2021).
“So I looked at it as a super lofty goal. And I thought I really had to play well in the majors, and if I can play well elsewhere, as well, that would be awesome.”
“The Ryder Cup is the best,” Spieth said. “We don’t get to play team sports and I love team sports. And that’s our opportunity to do it, in a home arena.
“The ’16 Ryder Cup was such an amazing week for us. To be able to celebrate it with people afterward and all the fans that stick around,” he said. “You don’t have that in our sports very often. In our sport, when you win, you do media, go back to their team and you may go out to dinner with a few people and that’s your celebration. To be able to essentially have your championship parade on the back end if you’re able to close it out, and playing for your country, it’s one of those opportunities that gets you going.”