Spieth would stick with college course

IRVING, Texas -- So what if 16-year-old Jordan Spieth wins the HP Byron Nelson Championship on Sunday?

The notion may have seemed far-fetched before the tournament began. But with Spieth sitting six strokes off the lead and tied for seventh at 6-under at the TPC Four Seasons Resort & Club, anything is possible.

A win would mean that Spieth would earn a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour. But a player can't become a member of the tour until he's 18. Spieth turns 18 in July 2011. He would then have 60 days to decide whether to accept or decline the two-year exemption. If he accepts, he would exempt for the rest of the 2011 season and all of 2012.

Would Spieth consider turning pro instead of heading to the University of Texas?

"It is hard because you realize that you can compete out here and make a lot of money out here," Spieth said.

If the leaderboard stayed the same Sunday, Spieth would end up tied for seventh and could have earned around $180,000.

"I stick by where I am right now and I think that I need to learn and grow as a person and learn to control distractions and that kind of stuff better, and I think college is the place to do that," Spieth said.

But even without turning pro, a victory Sunday would mean more PGA Tour events for Spieth this season. He would gain entrance into next week's Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, the Memorial Tournament, the AT&T National, the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, the 2011 SBS Championship, the 2011 Arnold Palmer Invitational, the 2011 Masters and the 2011 Players Championship. He could play in all of those events as an amateur.

Spieth has already made history. He's the sixth-youngest player to make the cut in a PGA Tour event. And he's the first amateur to record three consecutive rounds in the 60s since Danny Lee did it four straight rounds and tied for 20th in the 2008 Wyndham Championship. The last amateur to win a PGA Tour event was Phil Mickelson at the 1991 Northern Telecom Open. Chris Wood was the last amateur to finish in the top 10. He did so at the 2008 British Open (tied for fifth).

Shawn Spieth, Jordan's father, said that if his son were to win, his family and a few friends would discuss things and try to help Jordan make a decision about his future.

"I can't tell you what he might do," Shawn Spieth said. "It's very, very unlikely that he would turn professional, though. I'm 99 percent sure he'd go to college. I know he wants to go to Texas. We'd just have to figure that out if it happened.

"There are a lot of good players out here, and it's different when you're a high school golfer having a good week and you're trying to make cuts every week and make a living."

Of course, more sponsors' exemption invitations are likely on the way for Spieth no matter what he does Sunday. He's already committed to the St. Jude Classic in Memphis and as a non-member, he gets a maximum of 12 sponsor exemptions.

"There aren't any new invitations as far as I know, but I haven't checked the mailbox," Shawn Spieth said.

They are probably on the way.

If Spieth falls short of winning the tournament, he could post the best score ever by an amateur in the Nelson. Six amateurs have finished in the top 20 in the event, with Frank Stranahan and Earl Stewart Jr. as the best of the bunch, both tying for fourth in 1946.

Richard Durrett covers golf for ESPNDallas.com. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.