Amer Ari & The PGA Tour Connection
PGA Tour professional Jordan Spieth spent a good part of 2015 ranked as the No. 1 golfer in the world, leapfrogging with Jason Day and Rory McIlroy for the honors. He climbed steadily toward the top of the rankings with wins at the Valspar Championship (March) and The Masters Tournament (April), with two second place finishes between the victories. He finally made it to the top slot in August and has remained in the top three ever since.
But it was only four short years ago, 2012, that Spieth was at Waikoloa Beach Resort, a standout collegiate player at University of Texas, leading a talented Longhorns team to a No. 1 national ranking and a victory at the 22nd Amer Ari Intercollegiate tournament.
It’s remarkable, really, for a player to jump from collegiate standout to best player in the world in such a short span of time. How did he do it? Was it pure talent alone? Turns out that Spieth — and a long list of top players before him, including Matt Kuchar, Anthony Kim, and Notah Begay — along with their college coaches, view tournaments such as the Amer Ari to be a perfect testing ground for the PGA Tour.
Coach Tim Mickelson of Arizona State University (ASU) says, “I encourage every player on my team to have professional golf as a goal of theirs. If they don’t want to take their golf to the pro level, there’s no guarantee I can get them to give 100 percent every day during college. The Amer Ari is one of the best collegiate tournaments in the country. It always has one of the strongest fields every year and simply participating in the event gives the college players a great feel of where they fit in college golf. If you can win the Amer Ari, you know you are in elite company.”
Photo: The victorious 2012 University of Texas Longhorns team, led by Jordan Spieth.