Jordan Spieth was seven holes from winning the Masters for the second consecutive time when disaster struck on Sunday. He found himself at the twelfth hole, often called the most beautiful par-three in golf. It was anything but for Jordan, who hit two balls into the water. In the span of five minutes, his lead evaporated. Danny Willett, a new father and the son of a Church of England vicar, went on to win.
Today the sporting world is focused on what many are calling Jordan’s “collapse.” I have a different view.
Due to the great kindness of a friend, it was my privilege to attend the Masters last Friday. I followed Jordan Spieth from the time he began his round until our group had to leave for the flight back to Dallas. Several times I was ten or so feet from him.
Here’s what I observed: he is an amazingly talented golfer and an even better person.
I marveled at the way Jordan interacted with his fellow competitors, his caddie, the tournament officials, and especially the fans (called “patrons” at the Masters). He was unfailingly gracious. He never lost his composure or his dignity. I saw the same demeanor on television yesterday after the calamitous twelfth hole.
After his crushing loss, Jordan gave credit to the patrons who encouraged him and to his team for their support. He congratulated Willett and thanked “everyone who makes this great tournament possible.” He was a model of character and decorum. And he is only twenty-two years old.
What is the secret to such maturity?
When asked that question, Jordan points immediately to his sister. Ellie was born prematurely with a still-undiagnosed neurological disorder that left her developmentally challenged. Jordan calls her “the best thing that ever happened to our family.” As a high school senior, he volunteered at her special needs school each week. He says, “With Ellie and how we grew up with her and her struggles and her triumphs, I think it just put life a little more in perspective.” (For more, see Janet Denison’s Jordan Spieth and the Family that Cheered Him On.)
After spending the day with Jordan Spieth, I was reminded of three facts:
One: The way we respond to adversity shows the person we truly were all along. As Scripture says, “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small” (Proverbs 24:10).
Two: The way we treat people is more important than the way they treat us. The Golden Rule is still a rule: “Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them” (Matthew 7:12).
Three: Character endures long after achievement is forgotten. Francois Fenelon was right: “The more you say, the less people remember.” But godliness always points to God.
Dwight Moody noted, “If I take care of my character, my reputation will take care of me.” Solomon agreed: “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely” (Proverbs 10:9).
Are you walking securely today?