Spieth’s touching tribute to the late Shane Warne - PGA of Australia

Spieth’s touching tribute to the late Shane Warne

Three-time Major champion Jordan Spieth has revealed the impact the passing of cricket great Shane Warne has had on him in an exclusive interview with Australian golf writer Bernie McGuire.

With tributes planned for what will be an emotional Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground starting Monday, Spieth has told of the treasured memento he was gifted by Warne when the pair met at the 2015 Australian Open pro-am at The Australian Golf Club in Sydney.

Spieth was the reigning world No.1 and champion at both The Masters and the US Open earlier that year prior to his arrival into Australia’s oldest city.

He had also captured the Valspar Championship, John Deere Classic and the PGA TOUR season-ending Tour Championship and a string of records along the way.

Winning the Masters and the US Open in the same year ensured Spieth became the first to do so since Tiger Woods in 2002, and the Texan became the fourth-youngest to win multiple major championships and the youngest winner of the US Open since Bobby Jones in 1923.

Spieth also swept all the major awards for the season: PGA Player of the Year, PGA TOUR Player of the Year (Jack Nicklaus Trophy), Vardon Trophy, Byron Nelson Award for leading the tour in scoring average and Arnold Palmer Award for leading the tour’s moneylist.

Also of note, he was the reigning Australian Open champion.

His pairing with Warne was a promoter’s dream. The visiting top-ranked golfer in the world and winner of two of the four majors of 2015 teaming with an Australian-born global sports legend, widely considered as one of the greatest bowlers in cricket history.

Warney, as he was affectionately known the world over, revolutionised cricket with his mastery of leg spin, which many cricket followers had come to regard as a dying art due to the difficulty of accurately bowling the deliveries.

The meeting between Spieth and Warne had a lasting impact on the American Major champion. Photo by @TourMiss

There was the occasion on the first tee, which I still vividly recall, with Warne presenting Spieth with an autographed cricket bat and with the words ‘Bowled Jordan! Keep Smiling.’

After a quick lesson from Warne in how to hold the bat, Spieth then delighted a big gathering around the opening tee by taking a few golf-like swings with the bat, or as Spieth calls it, a cricket ‘paddle’.

The recent Hero World Challenge hosted by Tiger Woods was my first opportunity to speak with Spieth since Warne’s tragic passing in March this year about their first meeting that sunny Wednesday morning of November 25th, 2015.

And it came as a great surprise to learn the present location of the cricket ‘paddle’ Warne presented to Spieth.

“I have the cricket paddle ‘Warney’ gave me proudly on display in my office back home in Dallas, and it’s one of the coolest things I have,” Spieth revealed.

“I know Warney was famed for his bowling but to have, yes, a cricket bat up there on my office wall, and also signed by him is something I’m really proud to have.

“As golfers we are always collecting golf-related items to put up on display but a cricket bat is probably the most unique thing I have up there on display.

“We had a great day together playing in that pro-am with Warney being so much fun and a very good golfer, as well.

“He and I kept in touch for years afterwards while I always followed him on social media. When I went back to Australia for the 2016 Open I got to play the pro-am with Ricky Ponting.

“It came as a huge shock when learning the news of Warney’s passing. I felt terribly sad for his children. He was a guy that would light-up a room and that was so noticeable that day we played the pro-am.

“There’s now not a day that passes that each time I’m in my office I’ll look-up at that cricket bat and think of Warney.”

Spieth finished joint runner-up in his defence of the 2015 Australian Open, losing out by shot to Aussie Matt Jones.

He returned a year later to beat Ashley Hall and also now fellow Open champion Cameron Smith to capture the Stonehaven Cup for a second time in three years.

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