Well, I hate to say I told you so, but…just kidding, I love to say I told you so. I said that Spieth would defy history and win the Masters and as you all know, he did. That means I’m either psychic, the best golf analyst of all time, or Jordan Spieth is just really really good. I don’t even know what’s going to happen tomorrow and I also thought Anthony Kim was going to be the next Tiger, so I’m going to go with the latter.
To start, here’s an interesting stat that I came across: Spieth ranked 52nd in Driving Distance out of the 55 that made the cut, thus proving my theory that I stated on Thursday night that being long isn’t a pre-requisite for winning at Augusta. The intricacies of Augusta highly outweigh the necessity for power. It undoubtedly helps, but is in now way the primary factor.
Spieth’s multiple record-breaking performance was well-deserved and utterly fantastic, but was not the best ever. Tiger’s performance in 1997 is certainly still the best ever and I’d say Nicklaus’ in ’65 and arguably even Raymond Floyd’s wire to wire in ’76 were better than Spieth’s. Augusta was setup to play quite easier than usual this year. Greens were soft and responsive. If you hit a good shot, you were rewarded, rather than practically holing out and having the ball careen 20 yards off the green and balls staying up on ledges that they never do. Let’s also not forget that Tiger won by 12 strokes, while Spieth only won by 4. Nicklaus won by 9 with Arnie and Player in second and Floyd won by 8. Another thing that annoyed me was Spieth not holing his putt to break the record for the lowest Masters score ever. I can’t even remember a time Tiger or Jack missed a makeable putt to win a major tournament. I’m sure they did, but it always seemed like they would put them away so they didn’t have to tap in to win. It might sound nit-picky, but I think it’s necessary when you want to compare someone to the bests ever.
Let’s talk about comparing Spieth to Tiger and where Rory fits in now. The similarities are certainly there for Jordan in those statistics we’ve all seen of their first 6 rounds at The Masters and their age and whatnot, but it goes further than that. He’s a grinder. There were many times in the 3rd and 4th rounds where I was watching and said to myself “Uh-oh, here’s where he’s going to mess up and fall back a bit.” But he never did. He’d hit a poor shot and then pull off a great recovery in the same fashion we’ve seen from Tiger an uncountable amount of times. Now, when Rory came onto the scene we were calling him the next Tiger too, but I’d say he’s more of the next Phil. He’s unbeatable when he’s on his game, but when he doesn’t have it that week, he’s not going to win. Tiger has made his living more out of winning when he shouldn’t have than dominating, which he’s done his fair share of too.
So, is Spieth the next Tiger? No. What I’ve learned from trying to figure out who is going to be the next Tiger over and over again for these past few years is that I don’t think there will be another Tiger for a long time, if ever. Tiger already brought golf to the mainstream and Spieth is nowhere near the the personality that Tiger was, but he’s as close as we’re going to get for now.