By DAVID W. KEEN
Tour Council's chiropractic specialist Dr. Troy Van Biezen, who has worked with Jordan Spieth since he was 14, talks about what makes Spieth special.
DWK: Well, first off, congratulations are in order.
TVB: Thank you, yeah, it's been awesome.
DWK: Can you try to describe what it's like for you to see Jordan doing what he's doing right now?
TVB: I think the first word that comes to mind is just "surreal." It seems like history is unfolding in front of our eyes with him right now, you know? We haven't seen anything like this since Tiger burst onto the scene. I think the thing for me is, knowing him since he was 14 and seeing him elevate to number one in the world, it just feels like it's not real. He and I talked about it yesterday and every goal he set, everything he strived to accomplish, he's already done and he's only 21 years old. Yesterday he brought the US Open trophy into my office and we just sat and stared at it.
DWK: I saw the pictures of you guys in the office on your Facebook, that looked like a pretty special moment.
TVB: Yeah, you know that's the thing about him, most athletes are pretty selfish, it's kind of the nature of the beast, but he understands that you know, he's the one out there hitting the shots but there's a team behind him that gets him to where he needs to be in order to do that.
DWK: I would say a lot of guys on tour these days are talking more and more about the importance of their team, certainly more than 10, 15, 20 years ago, and I would say that Jordan seems like he might be one of the most aware of the importance of his team.
TVB: Yeah, 100 per cent, he acknowleges what we as a team do behind-the-scenes to get him prepped and ready to compete physically, mentally, technically, you know, which is really rewarding for us. With Jordan, this team has been with him since he was a teenager, which is really cool. Most guys, they put a team together once they reach the PGA Tour, I don't think there's many others who've been together as long as we have.
DWK: I can remember talking with you last year about your relationship with Jordan, but can you reiterate how you got involved with him at such a young age?
TVB: Well, my office in Dallas [ChiroSport Specialists] has a junior golf development program and he already knew about us through word-of-mouth from different coaches. Then he was playing a tournament, I believe in Memphis, that I was actually working at as well and he hurt his back hitting a 3-wood out of the rough, and his dad approached me to see if I could help.
I think at that point, Jordan realized that if he was going to be able to compete on the highest level, he had to stay healthy, first and foremost. He didn't really grasp the training side of it initially, it took a little while for that understanding to come, but once he realized that was an intregal part of reaching his goals, he flipped a switch and suddenly it was "game on."
DWK: I can't believe that anyone could foresee what he's been able to accomplish, but what is it about Jordan Spieth that makes him different from other athletes?
TVB: We always knew he was special, we always knew he was going to be a good player, but I think me and the other guys on his team, we didn't realize it was going to happen this quick. It just seemed to all come together really quick for him and just like all the other players on tour, he puts a lot of time in, he works hard but I guess the answer to that is, he has that It factor that you hear about. His mental maturity and his competitiveness, I've never seen it quite like that in anyone so young, and I don't think we've seen anyone with his mental toughness since Tiger. You could see it on 18 at the US Open, he had to make a putt and he just stepped up, hit it with confidence and never looked like he expected to miss.
DWK: I think the thing that really comes across to us that don't know him is just how humble and down-to-earth he seems — you know with Tiger, he always seemed cold and emotionless when he was out there killing the competition, but with Jordan, because he seems like such a regular kid, that killer instinct is a little harder to see ...
TVB: Yeah I know what you mean, one thing I tell everyone when they ask about him is: he respects the game, he respects his colleagues, he's still humble, but he's the type of player that will step on your throat and smile while he's doing it. You know with Tiger, you called him robotic earlier, I think that was part of his persona, whereas Jordan is smiling when you realize he's about to take you out.
DWK: [Laughs] Which is sometimes a deadlier combination ...
TVB: Absolutely. You just don't expect it because he's this blond-haired, blue-eyed All-American kid, smiling, and before you know it you're like "whoa, he just killed me."