Jordan Spieth is having a good PGA Tour season, but he wants great

By Doug Ferguson
Published on
Jordan Spieth is having a good PGA Tour season, but he wants great

AKRON, Ohio (AP) — Any other year, Jordan Spieth would feel this has been a very good season.

Just not this year.

At the halfway point of 2016, he already has two victories. One of them was an eight-shot runaway against a winners-only field at Kapalua. The other was even better, earning his first PGA Tour title in his home state when he birdied the last three holes at Colonial. He was in serious contention to win a major. He is approaching $4 million in earnings in just six months.

"Yes, it would be a really good year," he said Tuesday. "Does it feel like one? It feels like a good year. It doesn't feel like a great year yet."

There's still time, of course. Spieth has the Bridgestone Invitational this week, and he has yet to win a World Golf Championship. He still has two majors remaining. He might have the Olympics. He has the Ryder Cup.

He also has last year as a benchmark.

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An encore was never going to be easy. He is coming off what historically can be viewed as a once-in-a-career season. It just happened to be when he was 22. He won the Masters and U.S. Open and had close calls in the other two majors. He won five times on the PGA Tour and set a record with over $12 million in earnings, and that doesn't include the $10 million bonus for winning the FedEx Cup.

On Tuesday, reality set in; topping 2015 will be next to impossible. But he was basing that on 10 years, not one year.

"What's interesting is every year from when I was about 12 years old, I had a more significant accomplishment than the year before," he said. "I felt like I was a better player than the year before. And this is the first year where I don't have — to his point — an amount of significant accomplishments that I can say, 'Hey, that was a stronger year than last year.' Every single year before that, I can say that."

His teen years were filled with a pair of U.S. Junior Amateur titles, or weekend contention at a PGA Tour event when he was 16. He won a national title at Texas. In his first year as a pro in 2013, he won the John Deere Classic and played on the Presidents Cup team.

And in 2014? He didn't win on the PGA Tour, but he made the Ryder Cup team, won twice at the end of the year in the Australian Open and Hero World Challenge and ended the year at No. 9 in the world, up 13 spots from the previous year.

"And this year," he said, "it hasn't felt that way because it hasn't been, in all honesty."

The Masters still stings, but only in times of reflection. Spieth didn't have his best stuff that week at Augusta National and still had a five-shot lead on the back nine until one bad swing led to a triple bogey, and he never recovered.

"One hole from still having a few wins and a major, which ... I wouldn't call that anything below exceptional," he said.

Still, only the British Open and PGA Championship remain. He would have to win both of them to match his major total from a year ago. "And the FedEx," Spieth said with a smile, offering a reminder that last year was special beyond a pair of majors.

"So it can be done. I'm not hosed," he said, pausing before he added, "If I don't win the Open, I'll be hosed."

No golfer ever wants to be told what he or she cannot do, though history was never in Spieth's favor. In terms of chasing the Grand Slam, only three other players since 1960 have won the first two legs — Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. None of them ever got another chance at it.

His total ranking for strokes gained, the statistic that measures performance against the field, is at No. 8. Last year, he was at No. 2. That's not a huge difference. His two victories at the halfway point are one fewer that last year (minus two very big majors). The perception will always change after a big year.

Can it be better? Spieth knows the odds are ridiculously long, but he's not ready to concede just yet.

"I still believe that given the events and the magnitude of the events that are coming up, I still think we have what I would consider half the season left," he said. "The number of tournaments wouldn't tell you that, but a lot of very big events left in this season to create a great year out of it."

"I think," he said, "it's a good year still."

This article was written by Doug Ferguson from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.