Spieth Issues Warning to Rivals with Dominant Win

Jordan Spieth has laid down a marker for his rivals to match after a scintillating display to win the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.

In his first PGA Tour start of the season, Spieth separated from the field and won by eight shots.

It will be interesting to see how Rory McIlroy responds in Abu Dhabi in two weeks as Spieth extends his lead at the top of the world rankings.

It was only this time last year that McIlroy was the seemingly untouchable number one player in world. In the meantime, Spieth has piled on the victories with this one his 6th win since March last year, including two majors during that time.

His total of 7 wins at the age of 22 matches Tiger Woods at that age and he looks certain to overtake Tiger in most wins for a golfer under the age of 23.

His rivals will be concerned by the relentless consistency of low scoring by Spieth, which sets him apart. Both Jason Day and Rory McIlroy have the potential to win in similar fashion so a fantastic rivalry between the three is brewing.

But there is no doubt of who the main man of that trio is at the moment.

The most impressive thing about this win is that Spieth reached a scarcely believable 30 under par, a final score that has only been bettered once in the entire history of the PGA Tour.

This comes after he broke the record for lowest score in the Masters last year (-18) and lowest score for all four majors combined in a calendar year (-54).

How does this birdie machine do it? Well, it is simply not possible to post such a low score without having a good week on the greens and Spieth’s magic wand responded in kind once again this week with a +1.885 strokes gained through putting stat for the tournament.

Yet the quality of Spieth’s putting has almost become a given in the past year or so. What will be more worrying for his rivals is that Spieth seems to have found a new weapon to add to his armoury. The 22 year old American hit a number of fantastic shots with a 3 iron club this week which he has called his “favourite club in the bag.”

It was seen no more clearly than on the 18th hole at Kapalua on Saturday. The 660 yard par 5, while playing severely downhill, is one of the longest holes on tour. Spieth, who is considered only a moderately long hitter, was left with 250 yards for his second shot to the green.

What followed next was an early contender for shot of the season. Spieth hit a perfect draw with his iron, landing it in the ideal spot on the slope so that it fed into the green. The ball tracked the hole and skimmed inches away from dropping for an albatross. The resulting eagle left Spieth with a five shot lead.

It felt symbolic of the brilliance of Spieth. This was the bread and butter of Jason Day and Rory McIlroy, much longer drivers of the ball. The Texan is supposed to be the short-hitting tactician and his lack of length was how his rivals gained an advantage on him. Yet here he was bringing a par 5 to its knees.

While he may never be the longest hitter, if Spieth can hit a shot to a couple of feet away on a 660 yard hole in two shots, it seems like he will always be “long enough”.

And if he’s “long enough”, then it is hard to pick a single weakness in a player who looks destined to stay at the top of the game for a long, long time.

David Gorman

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