On Sunday, Jordan Spieth captured the 146th Open Championship title at Royal Birkdale, adding the British Open to his previous Masters and U.S. Open titles. In the process he became just the second youngest player to earn three of the four major titles, doing so at age 23 (only Jack Nicklaus beat him to it).
Yet Spieth wasn’t always the divined heir to golf greatness. As a junior at Dallas’ Jesuit High School, Spieth was a member of the school’s work-grant program via the Joseph M. Murphy Memorial Fund. His role in the work-grant program meant that he contributed at least 100 hours of community service to the school, from items like answering phones to cleaning the halls.
Yes, that means arguably the second-greatest young golfer in history spent part of his high school career as a makeshift janitor.
If that sense of humility doesn’t underscore the notion that Spieth doesn’t take his success for granted, this will: Not only did he accept the work-grant program with pleasure, he wrote a note to the man who established the Murphy Memorial Fund to thank him for making Spieth’s scholarship possible.
As the Dallas Morning News noted, it was a common occurrence for recipients of scholarships at Jesuit to pen letters thanking them for their support. Spieth followed that tradition with aplomb, and there’s every reason to believe he was sincere in what he wrote.
“It shows what a neat kid he is,” former attorney Terry Murphy, a Jesuit alum who endowed the Murphy Memorial Fund in memory of his late father, told the Morning News. “He’s just a great kid.
“When he sent me that letter, I wrote back and said, ‘I know who you are. I play at Bent Tree. If you ever want to play Bent Tree, give me a call.’ I told him, ‘As a matter of fact, I’ve played at Augusta a couple of times, and I’m sure you will too many times.'”
That was a prescient sentiment from Murphy. Spieth has certainly played at Augusta a few times since his note, and can now add a very memorable week at Royal Birkdale to his list of treasured golf experiences, right next to the ones forged at Jesuit thanks to a Murphy-backed scholarship.