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Jordan Spieth: Chasing Perfection-Attaining Excellence

History eluded Jordan Spieth on Monday, but his play at the British Open solidified his standing as a transcendent player in this or any other era.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The distance between the Brookhaven Country Club in Farmers Branch, where Jordan Spieth first learned to swing a club, and the Colonial Country Club, home to the legendary Ben Hogan, is only 10.5 miles down I-30E.

Monday Spieth attempted to narrow the gap even more by joining Hogan as the only golfers to win their first three Grand Slam events of the year.

Hogan accomplished the feat 62 years ago, when the idea of a Grand Slam was impossible. The PGA tournament and the British Open overlapped that year so Hogan had to settle for winning  "Hogan's Triple Crown."

Spieth's run at the record book fell inches short on #18 Monday afternoon at St. Andrews, but he reinforced his position as a dominant force in the game.

Apparently  the 21year old Spieth (he turns 22 next week), is human after all. His putter disappeared in stretches, which allowed Zach Johnson to capture his 2nd career major.

Spieth turned pro in December of 2012, and already his tour winnings, combined with endorsements, is fast approaching $50 million. How weird is it to know that before your 22nd birthday, your financial security assured, you can now concentrate on building your legacy?

That legacy construction is off to one helluva start. Jordan is 37 under par for his 12 rounds in the three Majors. Louis Oosthuizen is next at 23 under par. 10 of his 12 rounds have been 70 or under. He essentially has spent every one of the 12 rounds on the first page of the leaderboard, ordinarily a mentally suffocating situation. He embraced and fed off the pressure.

4-Putt: Disaster Turned into an Opportunity

Watching Jordan 4-putt #8 on Monday was one of the most painful sporting moments I have ever witnessed. I totally identified with his plight.  Just last September I had a 4-putt green in tournament as well.

I get it.

Well, maybe Spieth had a little more on the line Monday than I did in the Bluebonnet Cup, but hey, I feel his pain.

Every golfer 4-putts. It's inevitable. But Spieth's mental discipline is so far beyond his age that it defies imagination. He followed that disaster with two straight birdies, displaying perhaps his finest trait as a golfer - the ability to bury the past while walking from green to tee.

During this 2015 run in the Majors, 14 times Jordan has followed up a bogey or double with a birdie. He showed his humanity when he wasn't able to perform the trick a 15th time on the last hole, but the ability to erase mistakes from the memory bank seems to be a part of his golfing DNA.

Sometimes Golf Can Be A Team Game

Jordan Spieths' interview after the British Open revealed his holistic view of his game.

Although we came in wanting to be two shots better than what we finished, with everything that went on this week and the momentum we came in with it, yeah, I'm very pleased with the way we battled," said Spieth."

And more,

"I just made a mental mistake on No. 8, and it seemed to have cost me as well on 18, just not giving myself a chance. ... I just wish I had given myself a little better opportunity."

Taking responsibility for his own actions, but making it clear that he is not getting into the position to perform all by himself.

For decades, the rules for caddies on the PGA tour were simple.

"Show up. Keep up. Shut up."

No longer. The stakes are much higher. Spieth leads the PGA with a scoring average of 68.84 per round. Martin Flores is 78th on the list at 70.84.

Two strokes a round. A top caddy is worth his weight in Titleist Pro V-1 golf balls.

37-year old Michael Greller played golf at the small college level and was making a little extra money when he picked up the 17-year old Spieth's bag at the 2011 Junior Amateur.  He screwed up his first task. Greller gave Spieth the yardage for his 2nd shot on the first hole. Only trouble was they started on #10.

Spieth got over it, and had Greller on his bag for other elite amateur events. When Jordan turned pro, he took some flak for hiring an amateur on his bag when plenty of seasoned pros were lining up to work for him, but that didn't matter. Their working relationship was all that mattered.

Both men agree that Greller is more than a sounding board. Spieth trusts Greller implicitly. They talk all the time - good shots, bad shots, indifferent -- they are analyzing what happened and what needs to happen next. Spieth said Greller was a calming influence after his double bogey on #17 on the last day of the U.S. Open. Greller let him blow off steam, didn't give him a pep talk, but kept it business as usual on the way to 18.

Think Dustin Johnson, who went 75-75 the last two rounds of the British Open -- with his brother on the bag -- couldn't use a little more help from his caddy.

There is a great quote from the late Vince Lombardi. It is from right after he took over the Green Bay Packers.

"Gentlemen, we are going to relentlessly chase perfection, knowing full well we will not catch it, because nothing is perfect. But we are going to relentlessly chase it, because in the process we will catch excellence. I am not remotely interested in just being good."

Neither is Jordan Spieth