The Rushmore Report: How Michael Jordan Helped Jordan Spieth Win the Open


To say Jordan Spieth was leaking oil on Sunday at The Open Championship would be an affront to the Exxon Valdez. Spieth had bogeyed three of his first four holes and was fading hard. That’s when his caddie Michael Greller stepped in with a reminder. Much like Rory McIlroy’s caddie, J.P. Fitzgerald, reminded him earlier in the week, Greller shared a similar sentiment with Spieth.

A few weeks ago, Spieth took a trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, with his girlfriend and some friends to charge his batteries before The Open. He met up with Michael Phelps, Michael Jordan, Russell Wilson, and others. Spieth tweeted out a photo of them together at dinner.

On Sunday, when it was all going sideways at Royal Birkdale, Greller reminded Spieth of that photo.

Spieth said, “Michael did a great thing today. He said, ‘Do you remember that group you were with in Cabo last week? You belong in that group.’ This was on seven tee box. We walked off the tee box, and he made me come back. He said, ‘I’ve got something to say to you.’ He said, ‘Do you remember that group you were with? You’re that caliber of an athlete. But I need you to believe that right now because you’re in a great position in this tournament. This is a new tournament. We’re starting over here.'”

Heady stuff, and Spieth said it carried him throughout the rest of the round.

“I definitely thought about what he was saying while I was over some of those key putts I made. I mean, for the way it was looking, those weren’t easy; those 3-footers were like 10-footers to me. And all of a sudden the lid came off. And the 30-footers were 2-footers to me. I don’t know why I can’t make it a little more boring sometimes.”

Spieth went on to explain why self belief is so important in golf and how he’s able to channel it in the most absurd moments (which is what I think makes him so great).

“I think just a little bit of belief that you are the best, you know?” said Spieth. “Michael Jordan and Michael Phelps are the greatest to ever do what they did, and I’m not. But if you believe that you are, then you’re almost as good as being that. And it’s so hard in that situation to believe that, but just having the slightest bit of belief in it makes you so confident. And I thought that that was so well said. It was just such the right time.

“I’ll never forget what Michael – how he told me that, when he told me that and the significance that it had. And just that bit of confidence that when he had said that early in the round and then he had another thing to say – that momentum is on our side. ‘Just do exactly what you’ve been doing, it’s going to go your way.’ Just his belief, when I know him so well, just fed over a bit.”

Greller certainly was worth every bit of his 10 percent of Spieth’s $1.85 million payday on Sunday. And now his boss has three major championships with a fourth on deck.

About the Author

Kyle Porter is a writer for CBS Sports.


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