08 October 2017

Jealously Motivates Them to Rise

At the 146th British Open, Jordan Spieth walked to the 18th green of Royal Birkdale to finish his attempt for what would become his third major title. From behind the green several of his countrymen - Rickie Fowler, Zach Johnson, Jason Dufner, and Justin Thomas - watched him. Thomas, who missed the cut in his second appearance at the oldest major in the world, came to support Spieth and celebrated his victory with him. 

Three weeks later their roles reversed. Thomas claimed his first major and was congratulated by Spieth who was among a group of friends and loved ones waiting for Thomas on the 18th green of Quail Hollow. 

Thomas and Spieth’s friendship goes way back; they have known one another since they were 13 and the two have been competing against each other since they were juniors. Both were talented young amateurs, and the best players during their high school and college years. Despite being rivals on the course they remain best friends off the course. Their healthy rivalry pushes them to get better. Spieth’s success over the past few years has motivated Thomas to rise up this season.  

Just three years after turning pro in late 2012, Spieth had already won six times, including two majors and a FedEx Cup title. He reached No. 1 in the world in 2015 and added his third major title that year. Meanwhile, Thomas turned pro in late 2013 but only managed to collect one victory and let numerous opportunities slip through his fingers.

Thomas spoke frankly after his win about the feelings that players experience. “Frustration probably isn’t the right word. Jealousy definitely is,” said Thomas, as quoted by the Guardian. “I mean, there’s no reason to hide it. I would say, anybody, they are jealous that I won. I was jealous that Sergio won (The Masters), that Brooks won (US Open), that Jordan won (the Open). I wanted to be doing that and I wasn’t.”

Now Thomas is also a major champion he’s firmly in the midst of a rivalry of a generation. Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day are up against the two star pupils of the high school Class of 2011: Thomas and Spieth. 

Both Spieth and Thomas have spoken previously about enjoying their combined rivalry and friendship. Thomas explained, “It’s a cool little friendship we have. I think it shows where the game is right now, where all of us are. We obviously all want to win. We want to beat the other person. But if we can’t win, we at least want to enjoy it with our friends. I think that we’ll all be able to enjoy this together and I know it’s going to make them more hungry, just like it did me.”

The Thomas-Spieth rivalry will likely continue for seasons to come. And, it’s sure to be interesting!

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