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For Jordan Spieth, personal history at Innisbrook is special

Now a star, Spieth got his second PGA win here, and earned his PGA Tour card with strong showing here in 2013.
Jordan Spieth, shown during his championship at Valspar in 2015, said he's excited to be back at Innisbrook for this year's tournament. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times (2015)]
Published Mar. 7, 2018
Updated Mar. 8, 2018

PALM HARBOR — If it's possible for a 24-year-old to get nostalgic, that's a big part of why Jordan Spieth is back at Innisbrook's Copperhead Course for this week's Valspar Championship.

Four weeks before he won the Masters in 2015, Spieth picked up his second PGA Tour victory at the Valspar, but his history with the tournament is more personal. In 2013, a seventh-place showing at age 19 was enough to secure his tour card.

"I was playing the back nine (Tuesday), and I got to No. 17, and that was the spot where in 2013 I holed a chip that got me inside the (cut) line to get my card, and in 2015 I got up and down on the 71st hole and then on the second playoff hole made a birdie putt," Spieth said Wednesday. "I thought and said out loud … this hole's got as much good history as any in the world for us. It's cool to recognize and fall back on those moments."

Spieth went on to become PGA rookie of the year in 2013, and he followed his win at Innisbrook in 2015 with wins at the Masters and the U.S. Open. Three years later, he has 11 career wins and is a huge name in the sport, but he hasn't forgotten where he was five years ago, on the same course but in a much different place.

"I had a 5 or 6-footer to get my par (on 18), and I remember walking over. All those nerves went away, and I had the biggest smile on my face," Spieth recalled. "I remember walking over to (caddie) Michael (Greller) and thinking 'Four weeks ago we were trying to work our butt off to get temporary Web.com (tour) status, and now we've got a job on the PGA Tour.' It's amazing what a month of good runs can do."

Spieth can now pick which events he fits into his schedule. He said his history at Innisbrook made the Valspar an easy call for him this season.

"Look at (Tiger Woods') resume and how many times he's won at certain places, and the schedule that he started to choose as he got into his prime," Spieth said. "For me, still at this age, I want to test out, see which courses are the best for me. This is certainly one of them that the golf course seems to fit my game, whether I came in playing great or come in looking for something."

Spieth didn't play the Valspar last year. In 2016 he shot a final-round 73 to finish in a tie for 17th after shooting 68 and 67 in his previous two rounds. Even with a star-studded field, he likes his history at Innisbrook and hopes for more of the same.

"I seem to have found results here," he said. "Some golf courses treat you better than others."

Contact Greg Auman at gauman@tampabay.com. Follow @gregauman.

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