Jordan Spieth started 2016 in familiar fashion, dominating the Hyundai Tournament of Champions this past weekend in Hawaii. From the opening round of the tournament Spieth was locked in. An opening round of 66 (-7) had him one back of leader Patrick Reed, and after a Friday 64 (-9) Spieth took a lead into the weekend and never looked back. Spieth was so good that even a remarkable Saturday 10-under 63 from Brooks Koepka wouldn’t bother him, as his 8 under 65 that day had him sitting pretty with a 5-shot lead going into Sunday.
Despite firing his highest score of the week on Sunday (A 6-under 67), Spieth walked away with an absolutely commanding 8-stroke victory.
Some takeaways from Spieth’s first win of 2016:
For starters, Spieth is already going for more records. His overall score of 30-under came just one stroke shy of tying Ernie Els’s record of 31-under, set in 2003 at the same tournament.
Secondly, Spieth took on a loaded field this week, and won going away. As the tournament’s name suggests, every participant won at least once last season. This wasn’t just any field that Spieth was dominating; this was the cream of the crop.
There was also some pretty good golf played this week. As a matter of fact, some great golf was played. Usually when a tournament leader board consists of four players at 20-under or better, there’s going to be some excitement coming down the stretch, ending in a narrow victory. Not with Spieth playing there isn’t. Spieth made those -20’s look like even par this week.
Something else that stood out wasn’t even the play of Spieth. It was the play of the man paired with Spieth on Sunday, Brooks Koepka.
Going into the final round, Koepka was playing some pretty incredible golf. He started the week 69-68 before exploding on Saturday with the aforementioned 10-under 63. Although he was still 5 back, if there was one man who seemed like he could give Spieth a run for his money, it was Koepka. How did Koepka respond to being paired with Spieth? By posting a relatively mediocre 2-under 71.
You may be wondering why this is noteworthy.
When Tiger Woods was dominating the PGA, his play was so good that other golfers crack under the pressure of being paired with him.
Fast-forward about 20 years, and we may be seeing this same thing happening all over again.
While a score of 2-under certainly isn’t laughable, Koepka hadn’t shot worse than 4-under all week, and was just about 24 hours removed from posting the tournament’s best score. Simply put, Koepka had momentum, and was in a position to at least compete with Spieth, and he folded. Could it just have been an off day? Sure. But it certainly doesn’t help a golfer’s psyche knowing that even flawless golf may not be able to make Spieth even break a sweat.
In closing, Jordan Spieth’s play this past weekend was absolutely mind-blowing; and considering the 2015 he had, that’s saying something. Last year Spieth certainly had the talent. This year, not only has he improved that talent, he’s also playing with the swagger of a champion, and a huge mental edge.
It’s only been one tournament, but Jordan Spieth already looks like he’s ready to surpass the success he found in 2015.