BY JOHN STREGE
Feb. 13, 2017
Jordan Spieth was not necessarily a forgotten man in recent months, but on a tour with a profusion of young winners the prevailing question they all face is this: What have you done lately?
What Spieth has done lately is to demonstrate that his slide from No. 1 to No. 6 in the World Ranking was largely illusory, an inaccurate reading of his standing in the game’s hierarchy.
What have you done lately? Spieth has finished first (in the Australian Open), third, third, ninth and first in his last five international starts, including a four-stroke victory in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on Sunday.
It was easy to forget, in judging Spieth at 23 to an ostensibly unrealistic standard set by Spieth at 21 and 22, that even before his win at Pebble Beach he was still comparing favorably to a man who had set an even higher standard.
Spieth now has nine PGA Tour victories, two of them majors, at the age of 23 years, sixth months. Tiger Woods was 23 years, five months when he achieved nine wins, two of them majors.
It’s a virtual cinch that Spieth won’t continue to follow a path that parallels Woods’ career, but it’s heady company to keep, however long it lasts.
The odds are that it will last at least little longer. Spieth is now a 6-to-1 betting favorite in the Masters, according to Jeff Sherman, who sets the odds for the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. This was down from 8 to 1 in one week.
Spieth took a six-stroke lead into the Sunday, birdied the second and 17th holes and surrounded them with 16 pars, shot two-under 70 and won without a strain.
“Boring golf,” he said. “I apologize. But that also was kind of the game plan. We got on every tee box and Michael [Greller, his caddie] kept saying, ‘just keep playing boring golf.’ I don’t like playing boring golf, but that’s what was needed today. And fortunately we did to close it out.
“I hit 17 greens today [16, officially]. it was just kind of a dream round, ball striking, when you’re leading by a bunch. And I finally got one to go on 17.”
That was the exclamation point, a 29-foot birdie putt on the difficult par-3 17th hole to cap a memorable day at an iconic course.
“Man, it’s great to win at Pebble Beach,” he said.
Spieth, incidentally, was the seventh straight player in his 20s to win on the PGA Tour. April and Augusta can’t get here soon enough.