I wish I had an ounce of Spieth's maturity when I won a major

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Twenty-one years old, second-youngest Masters champion, shares the record for the lowest 72-hole total in tournament history, the first player in 39 years to win wire-to-wire at Augusta National, and now the second-ranked player in the world. All in a week's work for Jordan Spieth.

But it really was so much more than that.

I remember covering his victory at the 2009 U.S. Junior Amateur in New Jersey as he marched through the field with a combination of intensity and genuine sense of humility to win his first of two national junior championships.

Spieth had a disarming sense of maturity then, and nothing has changed a bit six years later. He weathered a shaky finish Saturday afternoon when he played the final two holes in 2 over par, holing an absolutely brilliant par-saving putt on No. 18 after a double-bogey on 17.

No major champion is ever crowned without playing through a rough stretch. Those two holes were the turning point this year for Spieth. After a heartbreaking loss a year ago when he saw a 4-shot swing in the middle of the final round cost him his first green jacket, he didn't retreat.

Spieth marched on, admitting how much he hated seeing Bubba Watson celebrate his victory in 2014. The Texan talked about how he was not ready for the responsibilities of being a major champion and how it motivated him to come back for this year's win. This was a young man's victory, but a win for a man with an old golf mind and a beautifully old soul.

I won my first major championship in 1992 and wish I had just an ounce of the maturity and perspective Spieth has. While it was my third win as a professional and a victory I waited nearly two years for, I didn't take joy in the win. Instead, I perceived it as a weight around my neck -- the weight of perfection.

After becoming a major champion, I would never hit another horrible shot in my life, right?


I had won a major, went on to win three more times that season en route to Player of the Year honors and the Vare Trophy for the lowest scoring average, as well as the inaugural ESPY for women's golf. Every bit of it felt like burden, not a bonus. The scheduling demands, trying to squeeze in practice time that became much less about quality, trying to manage my own expectations when I wasn't prepared and an unhappy home life -- it was all absolutely overwhelming.

The support system around Spieth, as well as the perspective of having a 14-year-old sister at home with special needs, will serve him well. He will handle this all so much better than I did. It will be tough to say no to so many opportunities following this victory, but he will figure out how to do that. He'll learn that his most precious moments will be sharing this win with those he loves most, as well as the time he'll eventually have to go practice all by himself again and reset his goals.

This win is also a win that bodes well for the future of golf globally. The two best players in the world now total a whopping 46 years -- the same age Jack Nicklaus was when he won his final Masters tournament in 1986. Spieth (age 21) and world No. 1 Rory McIlroy (25) came up through the junior ranks, playing as winning members of their respective Junior Ryder Cup teams, and are now the big-time players on their big-boy Ryder Cup squads. They are athletic, captivating and incredibly honest with the media.

The pair also look like they absolutely love playing golf, not allowing the game to totally consume their lives. They are making golf cool for a new generation of kids, perhaps even more than Tiger Woods did nearly 20 years ago. Golf is better because of these two guys. And, by the way, Spieth is going to push McIlroy to be even better than he already is, and vice versa.

I can't wait to see where these two great players lead the sport over the next decade and beyond.