ALLENTOWN, Pa. – Though he's a native Texan who plans to serve Texas barbecue at his Masters Champions dinner in April, golfer Jordan Spieth can trace his lineage to the Lehigh Valley. And this year, his fans in the area had plenty to cheer.
Spieth won the Masters, the U.S. Open, the FedExCup playoff title and more than $22 million to complete one of the best golf seasons of the century. For family and friends from the Lehigh Valley, Spieth's year was a source of pride.
"It's really interesting," said Donald Spieth, a music teacher and conductor from Bethlehem who has led performances at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. "A lot of people feel like they know him, because they know me. There's a strong connection to the area."
Spieth, 22, was born and raised in Dallas, but his family's roots center around Saucon Valley High School. His parents Shawn and Chris (Julius) were standout athletes there, along with five members of the Julius family.
"All of Hellertown feels like Jordan's aunts and uncles," said Kathy Julius-Muschlitz, an aunt of Spieth's who lives in Bethlehem.
Spieth's maternal grandfather, Bob Julius, is a retired Bethlehem Steel engineer who helped found the Greater Bethlehem Soccer League. Spieth's parents were married at Lehigh University in 1986.
Spieth's paternal grandmother Patricia lives in Quakertown. And he has cousins who attend schools across Pennsylvania, including Moravian, Bucknell and Penn State.
For Spieth's Lehigh Valley family, his success wasn't surprising. Spieth won the 2009 U.S. Junior Amateur in New Jersey before a huge group of cheering relatives. Two weeks earlier, he played Saucon Valley Country Club's Old Course, site of the U.S. Women's Open, with his grandfather Donald.
Spieth, then 15, told his grandfather that he intended to break 70 from the championship tees. He shot 69.
Spieth nearly became the first player to win the modern Grand Slam this past season, finishing fourth at the British Open and second at the PGA Championship. In winning the Masters, he tied Tiger Woods as the event's youngest champion.
When he returns to Augusta National in April, expect a family reunion.
"Hopefully, I'll get to see the second [Masters win] in a row next year," Donald Spieth said.
This article was written by Mark Wogenrich from The Morning Call and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.