Jordan Spieth dominates the Tournament of Champions
Jordan Spieth carried a five shot lead over Brooks Koepka going into Sunday at Kapalua, and even though I don’t think anyone really expected him to be caught, the way that Spieth went about running over the field was incredible to watch and the most amazing thing about it might be that he made it look completely and utterly routine. If there was any chance that he was going to be caught, Koepka or someone further back was going to have to fire something really low and hope that Spieth came back at least a little bit. The latter part of that equation was answered almost immediately, as Spieth set the tone with a long birdie on the second hole:
He followed that with another birdie on 6, and after a bogey on the 8th, he was able to post four more birdies to put a football field between him and anyone else who apparently teed it up on the same course that he did for four rounds.
The only thing he didn’t do was break Ernie Els’ tournament scoring record, as he fell one shot short of the 31-under total, but after being one shot back of Patrick Reed after Thursday’s opening round, it was utter domination for Spieth who ended up with an eight shot victory.
- 1. Jordan Spieth -30
- 2. Patrick Reed -22
- T3. Brandt Snedeker -21
- T3. Brooks Koepka -21
- 5. Rickie Fowler -20
What The Win Means For Spieth
To be honest, outside of the particulars like world ranking points and money earned, I’m not sure that this win means much in the grand scheme of things for Spieth. Sure, any win on the PGA Tour is a big deal and he completely dusted a strong field of champions, but I feel like at least to him, this was an expected outcome. If anything, it just further validates the idea that he’s the best player in the world at the moment and that he’s entering that rare Tiger air where he tees it up and just expects to win at all times, not to mention that it’s really quite obvious that unlike a lot of players his age, he’s so comfortable playing with a lead. There was no point on Sunday, and even on Saturday, where I thought he was going to give it up or come back to the field. Granted, Kapalua is an easier venue on the PGA Tour, but I honestly don’t think it would have mattered where he was playing this week. It was his tournament to win, he did and now he’ll move on to the next one. The particulars:
- 30-under par was one shot off of the tournament scoring record, set by Ernie Els in 2003.
- Earns $1,180,000 and 500 FedEx Cup points.
- Extends his lead in the Official World Golf Rankings to roughly 1.4 points on Jason Day and 1.8 on Rory McIlroy.
- Matches Tiger Woods by winning his seventh PGA Tour event before turning 23.
Reed, Snedeker, Koepka and Fowler
Imagine being one of these four players. To go out and post at least 20-under par, and never even have a shot is absolutely mind blowing and I’m sure that outside of some putting miscues for Reed and Koepka in particular, they’re probably thinking that there wasn’t much else they could do this week.
- Reed: His 65 on Thursday was really impressive and I’m starting to think that anyone who outdoes Spieth on any given day probably deserves even more credit for how well they played.
- Snedeker: Even though he won Pebble last year, it seems like Snedeker has been trending downwards in the last couple of years, so it was good to see him play well this week. He mentioned earlier how he thinks he has some swing issues resolved from last season, and the early returns are positive. If he’s got these issues fixed, he’s one to keep an eye on for the rest of the season because you know that the short game will be there.
- Koepka: The 63 he fired on Saturday was the lowest of the week by anyone in the field, and after the switch to Nike, I’m sure many were wondering how he was going to perform. Manufacturer switches are always tricky business, and it seems like the ones who switch to Nike tend to take even longer to get their games back in order or in the case of others, never seem to get it back on track (RIP Nick Watney). Watching Koepka smash the ball everywhere and be as crisp as he was all week should have you very excited for his 2016 campaign.
- Fowler: Nothing really stood out to me from Fowler’s week, minus the attire and that’s probably a good thing. Rounds of 69-67-69-67 don’t exactly leap off the page, but that kind of relentless consistency is something that we don’t often see out of Fowler. As long as he keeps the big numbers out of play, which he did this week, he’ll be in contention an awful lot.
The views are spectacular and the team of Coore and Crenshaw really did an outstanding job turning this piece of land into something as playable as it is, but it’s difficult for me to get really into a course where it seems like the guys can just bomb it all day with driver and suffer no real consequences. Yes, the mounding and elevation changes allow for some creativity in certain spots and I realize that complaining about a course that lets guys score like this is kinda silly, but I just can’t get too excited over seeing anyone tear it up on this track anymore.
- GIFs of the Week are posted here.
- For not having picked up a club since the Presidents Cup, Jason Day finishing T10 is pretty impressive. Realistically, I think it’s going to be hard for him to live up to what he did last year, but the weekend rounds of 69 and 65 were really solid.
- Padraig Harrington finished tied for sixth, and while I don’t expect it to really continue that way for the rest of the season, wouldn’t it be a welcome surprise? Him winning the Honda last year was one of my favourite things about the 2015 season, and I hope he can keep it going because a quality Padraig is good for everyone involved.
- I mentioned the Nike equipment switch for Koepka above, but at the opposite end of the spectrum were three players who switched to PXG. Zach Johnson (T21), Chris Kirk (T24) and James Han (T31) didn’t have great weeks, but honestly, I wouldn’t read too much into it, at least at this point. It’s still way too early to make judgments on these things, but I’m sure PXG would have liked to have seen better performances in their first week out.
- Brandon Stone won in South Africa this week on the European Tour, but right on his tail finishing tied for fourth? Retief Goosen, who is supposed to be healthy again, and apparently has decided to grow out a beard:
The PGA Tour stays in Hawaii for the Sony Open, site of Robert Allenby’s abduction in 2015, and the field is pretty strong with Adam Scott headlining in his 2016 debut. The European Tour is also staying where they are, playing the Joburg Open in South Africa, but the big headliner of the week could be the Eurasia Cup in Malaysia. Darren Clarke captains Team Europe against Jeev Milkha Singh’s Team Asia, and along with it being match play (which you should always watch), some big names are playing including Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood for Europe and Anirban Lahiri and Kiradech Aphibarnrat for Asia.