Spieth aims to keep low profile as Champions Dinner host

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 05, 2016 7:18 PM

By Mark Lamport-Stokes

AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - Last year's Masters winner Jordan Spieth will be the youngest player in the room when he hosts the Champions Dinner at Augusta National on Tuesday and plans to keep his own talking to a bare minimum.

The 22-year-old American will be serving up a Texas-style barbecue to honor his home state, and was licking his lips in anticipation of all the anecdotes to be told by his much older predecessors at the traditional Masters get-together.

"It will be certainly unique," Spieth told reporters on Tuesday. "There will be nothing that I've ever done before or will ever do that will match the first time talking to that audience. It's certainly a bit odd to think about. Cool.

"We've got guys, older champions, as well. I ran into (1979 winner) Fuzzy (Zoeller) in the champions locker room and he was a lot of fun. I'm really looking forward to tonight. It's going to be a great night.

"I imagine the (Masters) chairman (Billy Payne) will maybe ask me to say a few words. I'll certainly think of something that makes sense ... but I'll probably do less talking and more listening tonight."

The Champions Dinner tradition dates back to 1952 when Ben Hogan hosted the first one, and the evening is always a special highlight during Masters week for the attendees.

"Very few people don't show up for the Champions Dinner," said Tom Watson, who won the coveted Green Jacket in 1977 and 1981. "I intend to keep on coming, God willing, that I can make it.

"You have the chance to listen to the stories, be around the older guys. I figure I'm the fourth generation from the end now. We've got Doug Ford, who is 93. We have got Bob Goalby, who is 87; Arnie (Palmer) is 86. That's the second generation.

"Then you've got Jack (Nicklaus) who is 76, he's right in there. Charlie Coody (78), he's sniffing around in there, as well. That's the third generation. And I'm 66, I'm the fourth generation from the end. And then you go the other side of it and you've got Jordan Spieth. He's 22."

The Champions Dinner is one of the quirky traditions at the Masters where the defending champion chooses the menu, so the selections can vary wildly.

In 1989, Scotland's Sandy Lyle included haggis on the menu while Canada's Mike Weir opted for elk and wild boar in 2004. When Tiger Woods won the first of his four Masters, he served cheeseburgers, french fries and milkshakes.

Guests who attend the dinner are not obliged to eat the new champion's selections. If they do not like what is on offer, they can also select from a traditional menu that includes steak, chicken and fish.

(Editing by Frank Pingue)