Grandpa keeps close eye on Jordan Spieth in quest for second Masters
By Paul Arnett
AUGUSTA, Ga. – Bob Julius was holding court for a small group of patrons just off the 12th tee at the heart of Amen Corner, barely 25 yards removed from his famous grandson.
If anyone knew who he really was, they didn't show it, enjoying the running commentary of this sharp-minded 83-year-old man, who seemed to know a lot about Jordan Spieth.
Already 4 under at the time, the defending Masters champion was standing over a 5-foot par putt at 11 as Julius watched intently by the side of a huge pine tree, binoculars firmly planted on his face as Spieth found the hole.
"Good one," Julius said, obviously relieved his 22-year-old relative had safely navigated the first of the always treacherous three-hole stretch. As Spieth made the short walk to the 12th tee, his grandfather on his mother's side began telling a story of how Spieth had split his driver on Wednesday and how they got it fixed that same evening.
"That's how come he was out here so late practicing," Julius explained. "He wanted to make sure he had a good feel for the club."
Spieth didn't need it for the par-3 12th, just a sense of feel for the swirling, blustery winds that were wreaking havoc on the knee-knocking 155-yard hole they call "Golden Bell."
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The former University of Texas golfer was greeted with a standing ovation from the appreciative Masters crowd, which rose as one as he discussed his all-important 42nd shot with Team Spieth caddie Michael Greller.
As the ball left his iron, grandfather Julius held his breath, then let it out as the ball traveled over the top of the hole and nestled safely just beyond the green, but in front of the bunker. Spieth was close enough to use his putter, even though he wasn't on the short stuff.
"Get out that Texas wedge, that's what I'd use," Julius said to no one in particular. As if Spieth could hear him, that's exactly what he did. Playing partner Paul Casey had just hit a similar shot, and come up way short, prompting one patron to say, "I hope Jordan didn't see that."
Julius quickly replied, "That won't bother him. He plays his own game. I'll tell you something right now, don't play Texas Hold 'em with him. I don't anymore."
Waiting a beat, someone asked, "Does he have a good poker face?"
Grandpa replied, "Nah. Just plain lucky."
With the binoculars back in place, Julius watched Spieth stroke the golf ball out of the grass, and much like Casey, left his par putt shorter than he would have liked. But unlike Casey, he sank his 4-footer for 3 and moved on to the 13th tee.
"See what I mean?" Julius said.
Nobody had the courage to ask him whether Spieth wasn't bothered by the Casey miss, or, was just plain lucky. Whatever the case, Spieth went 2 under the rest of the way en route to a 66 and the first-round lead of the year's opening major.
Julius turned on his heel and began the long trek up the par-5 13th, the final hole of Amen Corner. Spieth eventually birdied it, his grandfather in tow. "He survived it," Julius said of Spieth's first foray at Amen Corner. "That's a good thing."
It certainly is as Spieth tries to become only the fourth golfer to successfully defend his green jacket. The other three? Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods. If Julius believed it was a possibility, it was one thought he kept to himself, opting to say, instead, "See y'all, tomorrow."
This article was written by Paul Arnett from The Honolulu Star-Advertiser and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.