Jordan Spieth won Sunday’s PGA Tour Championship in Atlanta. His four-stroke victory clinched the FedEx Cup title, capping one of the most magnificent seasons of golf. Although the everyday sports fan might never have heard of the FedEx Cup, no one is surprised anymore to hear that anything in golf was won by Jordan Spieth. In fact, it seems that nothing from Spieth surprises us at all. And that is quite a shame, as he is quickly putting together a remarkable part of his early career, while sometimes making it look too easy (it’s not). Whether you measure in wins, top-ten finishes, money, video highlights, or humble interviews, Spieth is poised to establish himself as the face of golf for at least a decade.
With his final win of the season, Spieth will likely win the Player of the Year award, in addition to reclaiming his world number 1 ranking. Jason Day and Rory McIlroy, among others, will duel him for that distinction next season, but it really is just a formality. Jordan Spieth is the clearly best golfer in the world. In 2015, he won two majors and was only a few strokes away from winning the other two. His short game is marvelous; his putting is other-worldly; and his methodical approach to each golf course highlights his sharp focus and concentration.
Hearing Spieth describe his journey, it is immediately evident that he understands his emerging place in golf lore; and yet he still maintains an appreciation for every small moment. Every interview is sincere and polite. When he wins, his wide and sheepish smile almost suggests he himself cannot even believe what he is accomplishing. Speaking to the media, he repeatedly uses the generalized “we” to describe his team, which I can assume includes his caddie, his family, and the many others who help him every day and with whom he is more than eager to share his success.
The thrill of success that accompanies each young star also comes with a price. Being the best is suddenly not good enough; the real benchmark is history. Expectations are heightened; pressure is inevitable. Tiger Woods spent his entire career being compared to Jack. His accomplishments were not just his own; they were building blocks in his predestined chase of Nicklaus’s peak. Fair or not, Jordan Spieth’s career will be subjected to the same scrutiny. His accomplishments will be compared to Tiger’s at the same age; his career will always be framed in reference to Jack’s major victory count. But it doesn’t appear that Spieth is concerned with comparisons. He doesn’t have to worry about being “the next… anyone.” He just has to be Jordan Spieth, and, with that, he might end up the best of all. AN
This article was concurrently published at NoCoastBias.com on September 28, 2015.