Player of the Year – Jordan Spieth
It was quite a year for 22 year old Jordan Spieth. He capped a historic year with a convincing four stroke victory in the Tour Championship and with that win warped up the Fed Ex Cup. Along with winning the season long Fed Ex Cup, came a huge paycheck of $10,000,000. His PGA Tour winnings alone totaled $12,030,465, which set a new record for most money won in a single season. So the question right now is “How good is he and how much better can he become?”
He was asked about his goals for the coming year and he was able to rattle off a number of areas that need improvement. One common trait of exceptional people is the incessant need to get better and challenge and conquer new territory. Jordan appears to have that quality. Does Rory McIlroy, Ricky Fowler, Justin Day, or Dustin Johnson have that same inner need? No, I don’t believe so. I believe all, except Fowler, are more talented, but pullup short of having that overriding almost uncontrollable desire for excellence. At the moment, Jordan has that mentality. Is that a good thing?
Jack Nicklaus was very driven, but he balanced his life with many family activities and business. He was a very passionate tennis player. He would go many weeks without touching his golf clubs. He recently stated that if he had committed himself to golf the way that Tiger Woods did, that he might have won many more major titles. I don’t think he feels sorry at all about his priorities. He continues to live an exceptional life and has enjoyed the benefits of his success.
We don’t really know if Tiger is enjoying his success, because he is so private about all aspects of his life. With each injury and surgery, we are told that he is working relentlessly on rehab and strengthening his body to get back to his prime physical shape so that he can regain his past glory. Obsessive single mindedness is the Tiger way. This might be the only way that Tiger is fulfilled and happy? Could that become the Spieth way? I doubt it. I think his support team of parents, coach, and girlfriend will keep him open and well-rounded and put his success in perspective.
It is only right to compare Tiger at 22 and Jordan at 22. Jordan has won two majors to Tiger’s one at this age. Jordan has won 6 PGA events to Tiger’s 5 in the same period. However, Jordan will have a big challenge in his 23rd year to match Tiger’s 1999 season of 8 wins and three majors. Not that he isn’t capable, but he would have to be 1 ½ times better than this year! In 2015 his putting was phenomenal and something that would be very hard to duplicate. The putting exhibition in the last round in Atlanta was absurd. Jordan was outplayed, but made every putt possible. If there is just a little drop off in his putting, like the first two Fed Ex tournaments where he missed the cut, he could drop back significantly. However, good putters tend to stay good putters for a long time. At the same age, Tiger was stronger, drove it much farther, was a better iron player, and was Jordan’s equal around the green and with the putter. The strongest willed people in golf, that I have witnessed, have been Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods. This past year, Jordan Spieth had the same resolve. If he keeps that focus and desire there is almost nothing that he can’t accomplish.