Wednesday 24 May 2017

Off the Ball: Spieth declares war on rivals with ominous show of strength

Jordan Spieth thinks it will be near impossible for him to have a year as good as last year. Photo: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Jordan Spieth thinks it will be near impossible for him to have a year as good as last year. Photo: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Joe Molloy

We have arrived at a point in time where it is now just plain silly if you pass up the opportunity to watch Jordan Spieth play tournament golf.

In what amounted to a booming declaration of war on his fellow professionals, Spieth (right) started 2016 by winning the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii on Sunday; accomplished with the kind of dominance reserved for very few in the history of the game.

Rory McIlroy on his day can do it, once upon a time so could Tiger Woods. Young Spieth became just the second player in Tour history to finish a 72-hole event at 30 under or lower. He also tied Woods for the most PGA Tour wins before the age of 23. This is serious business.

There was a moment on the Saturday night where it looked like he was wobbling somewhat. He had mishit a few shots, his lead had been cut down to one shot and he had 45 feet of tricky green to two-putt for his par. These are circumstances where very good players often wobble some more. Spieth holed from 45 feet for birdie and finished the round five shots clear.

It was scary, seemingly miraculous, play from the undisputed best putter in the game. He topped every other meaningful statistic for the week too.

McIlroy admitted in an interview with Off The Ball recently that Spieth is mentally way ahead of where he was at that age. In truth, he's mentally ahead of pretty much everyone at any age full stop.

This is a guy who learns lessons, big and small. He blew his first four opportunities with a 54-hole lead but has locked down his last five. It takes some players a decade to figure that out. If his putting is Tiger-esque, so is this new-found ability to close out a tournament. This eight-shot victory was his largest winning margin.

Spieth reckons it'll be near impossible for him to have a year as good as last year. These initial signs suggest he won't be miles off.

Irish Independent

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