Scott Verplank: ‘Spieth More Like Jack Nicklaus’

Scott Verplank is a PGA Tour golfer from Dallas. So is Jordan Spieth. In fact, they grew up playing at the same club.

“Obviously I’m 30 years older than him,” the 51-year-old Verplank said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones, “but we grew up at the same club in Dallas and we do a little charity thing together. The last couple years, he’s just starting to take part in that, which is nice of him because he’s obviously turned into a huge superstar. But he grew up playing round the same club with some of the same guys that I did. Obviously they were a lot younger when I was playing with them, but it’s funny. A couple years ago, this group of guys that are now probably in their 60s were in their 30s when they were playing with me. They were going, ‘Hey, have you played with Jordan Spieth?’ I said ‘No, I heard he’s pretty good.’ Every one of them just said, ‘Well, he’s a lot better than you were.’”

Hooray for honesty.

“(I said), ‘Oh, well, thanks a lot,’” Verplank said, laughing. “And they go, ‘No, no, no, he’s really, really good.’ They were going, ‘You were really good, but this guy’s better than you were.’ I believe them. This guy’s unreal.”

Verplank, it is worth noting, is no slouch. He has top-eight finishes at all four majors, including a fourth-place finish at the PGA Championship in 2011.

But then there’s Spieth, who won the Masters and the U.S. Open and finished in fourth at the British Open at St. Andrews.

“He’s definitely proved it,” Verplank said. “He’s really something special.”

But is he the next Tiger Woods? A lot of people have said that about Rory McIlroy, who has won four majors, and a lot of people have said that about Spieth. Is the 21-year-old Texan worthy of that comparison?

“Well, obviously what he’s done playing, yeah,” Verplank said. “But Tiger was a different level of athlete playing golf. He played better than anybody’s ever played before, in my opinion. I played with him quite a bit in the early 2000s when he was really, really good. He was pretty amazing.”

Woods won 14 majors between 1997 and 2008, including 10 between 2000 and 2006.

“But you know what?” Verplank said. “Jordan is the next level. He’s next-level mentally. Jordan is probably more like a Jack Nicklaus-type without the massive length that Jack or Tiger had. But Jordan just doesn’t make many mistakes. He just stays there and plays good every day. He plays not just good; he plays really good every day. That makes it awful tough trying to catch him and beat him. He’s not going to make a whole bunch of mistakes.”

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