Golf

Don’t cross Jordan Spieth if you’re a professional autograph hound

Jordan Spieth urges his ball to slow after hitting from the third tee of the Monterey Peninsula Country Club Shore Course during the first round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am golf tournament Feb. 9, 2017, in Pebble Beach, Calif.
Jordan Spieth urges his ball to slow after hitting from the third tee of the Monterey Peninsula Country Club Shore Course during the first round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am golf tournament Feb. 9, 2017, in Pebble Beach, Calif. AP

If you’re going to make money off someone else’s autograph, it ought to go without saying you shouldn’t tick off the guy you’re asking to sign.

What’s perhaps more intriguing is that someone got under Jordan Spieth’s skin Wednesday at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. The 23-year-old Texan gets praise across the PGA Tour for maturity beyond his years, especially in the fishbowl created when he got halfway to the Grand Slam two years ago.

But there he was, arguing with a handful of adults who weren’t happy he wasn’t responding to their pleas as he came off a practice round. An obscenity finally got Spieth to stop, but not to sign.

“I didn’t appreciate the language that was used,” the former Masters and U.S. Open champion said when he came in for a prearranged Q&A with the media. “Just some scums. It just bothered me.”

No longer the prized possession of young fans, autographs are big money and have been for a couple of decades. A signed photo commands a far bigger price tag than something unsigned, prompting many a memorabilia dealer to jump on planes to go wherever the athletes are.

A quick internet check, for example, shows an asking price of $538 for a plain white Under Armour hat with Spieth’s signature.

Eventually, though, athletes figure out who they are. See the same face often enough at different locales, and there aren’t many other possibilities.

And so athletes are increasingly wary of giving away their signatures. Allow Spieth to jump in again here.

“Our team keeps track of that kind of stuff,” he said. “And these guys just have bags of stuff to benefit from other people’s success, when they didn’t do anything themselves. Go get a job instead of trying to make money off of the stuff that we have been able to do.

“We like to sign stuff for charity stuff or for kids, and if you ask anybody universally it’s the same way, it’s just, they frustrate us.

“And so I turned around and one of them dropped an F-bomb in front of three kids, so I felt the need to turn around and tell them that that wasn’t right.”

If those guys hoped they wouldn’t be noticed before, forget it now.

Jeff Shain: 843-706-8123, @jeffshain

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