Mufasa aside, there’s a new “Lion King” in town after Jordan Spieth became the new ruler of the Quail Hollow Club.
In doing so, the 29-year-old became the sixth player in Presidents Cup history to win five points in a single event, and the first American since Jim Furyk in 2011.
With Spieth taking part in the opening four rounds of group matches with Justin Thomas, the pair took on international duo Hideki Matsuyama and Masters champion Adam Scott to help open up a four-point lead heading into Sunday’s singles matches.
No American pair had won four consecutive championships since Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker in 2009, a feat sweetened by Thomas and Spieth’s childhood friendship.
And when your teammate’s only complaint is that you left him almost nothing, you probably had a pretty good turn.
“I played two games, and I hit 10 putts. I think that’s pretty absurd,” Thomas told reporters Saturday.
“I legitimately think I’ve hit my fairways more than I’ve hit putts, so yeah, my par is pretty good.”
After a display from the king of putting, it was only fitting that Spieth marked his arrival with a tribute to the Lion King on Sunday.
Taking son Sammy from wife Annie, Spieth hoisted the ear-sporting child above his head in a near-perfect rendition of the opening scenes of the 1994 Disney classic, to the delight of the Presidents Cup crowd.
“That was really cool,” Spieth said. “Eventually it’s enough to look around and take in everything and be interested in everything.
“She loves her earrings, luckily, because she’s been loud here.”
“I want to get that monkey off my back”
Despite his newfound status as the “Lion King,” Spieth went up against Australia’s Cameron Davis with the self-proclaimed monkey on his back: incredibly, Spieth had never won a singles match at the Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup.
After missing three Presidents Cup singles matches from 2013 to 2017, Spieth was not selected for the 2019 event, prompting a dramatic fightback from American Woods. After three years, the absence still stings.
“It’s been awesome,” Spieth said before this year’s Cup. “I remember it was a very hard point.
“I hated every second of it because I know how much fun they are and I know how beneficial these weeks, these matches, individually how you play next year.”
Four consecutive birdies after the birdie saw Spieth end his drought against Davis in decisive fashion, as his 4-3 victory secured the American team’s first singles point.
“I was more nervous than I should have been today because I wanted to get that monkey off my back,” he said.
“It feels great. When you get out early, as I’ve done almost every team event on Sunday, they’re looking for red on the board, and it feels good to finally deliver that.”
Hours later, Xander Schauffele homered to seal the team’s 17.5 – 12.5 victory, sparking jubilant celebrations on the 18th hole.
Before the champagne flowed in the Cup, for the second time that day, Spieth lifted the crowd favorite.
“Do it when you have to [compete] collectively, representing your country against some of the best players in the world … you can’t put a price on it,” Spieth said.
“There really isn’t anything nicer.”