Jordan Spieth, front row centre, helped the University of Texas win the national championship in 2012. Photo: University of Texas
Then I played in Houston, an event with a South African team, Italian squad and American team. We all roomed together and I got to know Jordan pretty well there, he was still only 16. I played one round with him and afterwards was like: OK, this kid is pretty good. He had a long way to go but there was definitely something there.
At 16 he was very mature, very confident in his playing abilities. Socially, a 16 -year-old is ordinarily awkward and unfamiliar with their surrounds. Jordan waltzed right in, chatting to sponsors and knowing everybody.
When he progressed to college, he had that something … everybody talks about it without knowing exactly what it is. In my best deduction it is a longing, an all-encompassing drive and focus to achieve at whatever he does. We used to play ping pong in the locker room. If I managed to beat him six, seven games in a row he wouldnt be able to let me walk out until he beat me. Id beat him eight periods and he still hadnt had enough. Eventually when he beat me, then we could go out and practise.
Frittelli laughs when recollecting the team session when Spieth proceeded to offer an exact, hour-by-hour gale forecast. He was just so analytical. No stone left unturned.
It is not what Spieth achieves on the course that defines their own lives, however. That is his relationship with his sister, Ellie. It is why, understandably, there is a large component of privacy around so much of the Spieth story. Now 15, Ellie was born with a neurological disorder that puts her on the autism spectrum. She did not even have the power of speech until she turned four. Shortly after Jordan had put on the Green Jacket at Augusta, it was Ellie who Spieth spoke of, describing her as his inspiration and the most special part of our family. So much of the Spieth familys work Chris took on two jobs was to pay for Ellies place at the Vanguard preparatory school. Fees there range between $17,000 and $21,000 per year; Ellie still attends for 35 hours worked per week.
It is just such a sweet, loving relationship, says Rosalind Funderburgh, the schools founder, of the dynamic between Ellie and Jordan. It is very natural. It isnt stilted, it isnt condescending. It is exactly the kind of thing you would expect from an adoring older brother towards his young sibling.
I have known Jordan since he was in high school and whenever he comes to visit his sister, there has never been a single change in the way he is. They are a very low-key family; there has never been any bigheadedness.
Spieths journey, from model pupil to sporting inspiration, is one to cherish.