PEBBLE BEACH (KPIX 5) — Jordan Spieth is not Tiger Woods. Never was, never will be. Everybody got that?
The comparison reared it’s ugly head after Spieth won the Pebble Beach AT&T Pro-Am, becoming the youngest player to win 9 tournaments since Tiger Woods.
Anybody up for a little context?
In his first 100 PGA Tour starts, Jordan Spieth has nine tournament wins. In his first 100 starts, Tiger Woods won 28 events. That’s not only staggering, it’s unprecedented and will almost certainly never be matched again.
Spieth is a great young player and ambassador for the game. He has all the shots and youth on his side to win many more majors in the years ahead. He conducts himself extremely well off the course and on and is the 6-1 favorite to win the Masters.
But Spieth does not belong in the Woods conversation. Neither did Sergio Garcia or Rory McIlroy. We tend to do that in sports. Find a great young athlete, throw some numbers against a wall and draw a comparison to one of the greatest of all time.
On a glorious Sunday at Pebble Beach, Spieth stepped up to the first tee with a six shot lead. His strategy was to hit fairways and greens, steer clear of the challenging pins, settle for par and take home the crystal chalice. Spieth nailed it. Fourteen straight pars en route to a boring but impressive four-stroke victory.
Tiger Woods would have taken one look at the leaderboard and said to himself, “If there’s nobody that’s going to challenge me, I’ll challenge myself.” He would have aimed for the risky pin placements. The hell with a six shot lead. He’d be upset if it wasn’t 12 by the time he walked down the 18th fairway.
The 2000 U.S. Open was played at Pebble Beach. Tiger Woods had a 10-stroke lead heading in the final round. There was no fairway-t0-green strategy in Woods’ playbook. He fired 67 that Sunday winning the U.S. Open by a record 15 strokes. He lapped the field and then some.
This was Tiger Woods mentality. He was in a zone no other golfer could envision. His life was winning golf tournaments. In his mind, second place was failure. He wanted to be the greatest golf in history and win the most majors. Anything short of that was unacceptable.
Tiger is no longer that player. Not physically and not mentally. The brutal torque of his violent swing eventually took it’s toll and his personal life, and unraveled out of control. He has children and a different perspective on life and golf. He will never find that zone again.
Jordan will win a another green jacket. He will win a Claret Jug and the U.S. Open. He will be a great champion. But please, no comparisons to Tiger. Let’s enjoy the player that he is and not ask him to carry a mantle of someone he is not.
See you on TV.