As part of the Kid’s Day clinic sponsored by New York Community Bank featuring two-time PGA Tour winner Kevin Streelman, 13-year-old Jairam Hathwar, who recently won the Scripps National Spelling Bee and is a big golf fan, was invited to appear at the event at Bethpage Black on Tuesday.
Hathwar spoke to the assembled kids and obliged when asked to spell the longest word in the dictionary, a 45-letter monstrosity that he rattled off without pause (“pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis”). Then Streelman invited Hathwar to hit a few balls with a wedge provided by the organizers. After one mishit to warm up, he lofted one impressively down the range. Then Streelman began suggesting alterations to Hathwar’s swing and offered his own 7-iron for a longer shot.
Hathwar nailed a beauty into the distance that brought applause from the crowd. Asked how the pressure compared with a spelling bee, Hathwar said, “It was similar to the spelling bee with a lot of people here watching, but it was in a different situation. I didn’t do as well, but I still did OK. It was harder because I practice much more on spelling than I do on golf.”
Known as an avid fan of two-time major champion Jordan Spieth, Hathwar took a behind-the-scenes tour of the facilities at Bethpage Black and received a goody bag that included a hat autographed by Spieth along with his bobblehead likeness.
“I really like watching him on TV,” said Hathwar, who was expecting to meet personally with Spieth later before returning to his home in upstate Corning. “He was one of my favorite golfers because he’s very good and he has strong sportsmanship.”