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Jordan Spieth serves as welcoming host for nation's best junior golfers

By Brian Davis
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AUSTIN -- For most mortals, getting through 18 holes is frustrating enough. Trying walking in Jordan Spieth's Under Armours. What came easy in 2015 is proving to be a detestable journey this year, or so it seems.

So far, Spieth missed out on winning a second Masters title, and he struggled through the U.S. Open, two tournaments that he won during a magical five-win season the year prior.

"It's a marathon," Spieth said Monday. "If this is a down year, then we're in for a really fun next 20 or 30 years."

Spieth won in Fort Worth in May and finished tied for third on Sunday at the Bridgestone Invitational. Yet if there was a singular event or place that could recharge Spieth's majors mojo, this week's junior golf summit at UT Golf Club may do the trick.

The Under Armour/Jordan Spieth championship is a chance for many of the nation's top amateurs to get their competitive juices going smack dab in the middle of summer. And it serves as a reminder to hardened pros, even a 22-year-old, that people are out there lurking, eager to kick Spieth anytime he's down on the PGA Tour.

Almost 80 boys and girls, representing nine states and Mexico, have convened for what has become one of the nation's best AJGA events. Future collegians Nicholas Costello (Texas), Roberto Lebrija (Oregon) and Dillon Baxter (SMU) are in the competitive boys field. The three-day tournament begins Wednesday.

"I think it's awesome," said Kristen Gillman, the Lake Travis girls prodigy who's off to Alabama next month. "Jordan Spieth is so young, but he's accomplished so much. It's awesome to see what he's done and get to learn from him. I think it really pushes us and inspires us to become better."

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You won't get any complaints from Texas men's coach John Fields, who gets to show off his facility to dozens of players he'd ultimately like to convert into Longhorns.

As Spieth told the participants and their parents during a morning clinic, "I don't need to convince them. They know this is the place to be."

The program has nine commitments for players in the 2017 to 2020 recruiting classes. And UT Golf Club has already been awarded a NCAA men's regional in 2017 and women's regional in 2018. Club officials plan on making a competitive bid to land the 2020 NCAA championship.

"There's no question that had we not had this golf course, not had this academy, Jordan Spieth wouldn't have even come here. No question," Fields said. "To be able to share it with junior golfers, the parents of junior golfers, it's incredible."

Spieth confirmed this is really the only annual event that mixes his passions -- his sponsor, the University of Texas, junior golf -- into one smorgasbord. This may be the only time the ubiquitous Nike "Swoosh" can be covered up out here.

"I wish the University of Texas was an Under Armour school, and then we'd have more," Spieth said with a laugh. "But that's not my call."

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Spieth does have full control over his future in major tournaments, like the upcoming British Open and the PGA championship. The relaxed, smiling, full-of-life player that junior golfers saw on Independence Day definitely looks like one who's ready to tackle the back half of the year.

"I really want to give myself another chance at one of these majors," Spieth said. "The Masters, obviously I controlled that one. So I'd like to have a chance to win again, kind of put my foot down ideally on what happened there at Augusta and move on.

"And I'd like to grab a third leg to a Grand Slam," he added. "That right now is a reset goal that I've created going forward. I want to win all four majors. You've conquered every division of golf if you do that. It's not been done very often. And I've got a chance to do it this year."

This article was written by Brian Davis from Austin American-Statesman and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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