What if last year wasn’t the best golf Jordan Spieth can play?
What if he only continues to get better?
The possibilities seem endless. The comparisons to Tiger Woods are enticing and inevitable.
How impressive was Spieth’s 30-under 262 performance and eight-stroke romp at the Plantation Course?
Jason Day noted that the average winning score of the event before Spieth’s victory and since it moved to its current venue in 1999 was 20 1/2 under par. “He’s blown that average out,” said Day, the No. 2 player in the world and reigning PGA Champion, who also got blown out by 15 strokes.
Patrick Reed got to within two at the turn in the final round, but only for a nanosecond. Spieth birdied Nos. 9 and 10 then poured it on with three more birdies over his final four holes.
Reed, who made just one bogey all week, finished alone in second eight shots back.
The victory was the seventh of Spieth’s PGA TOUR career. The only other players to have that many wins on TOUR by age 22 are Woods and Horton Smith.
“He’s picking up where he left off,” said Zach Johnson, who finished a stroke better than Spieth in regulation at last year’s Open Championship before winning the tournament in a playoff. This week he got dusted by 19. “He’s very driven, very fierce, very solid.
“It’s just impressive. I don’t know how you define it, how you label it. If phenom is the right label then so be it. What he’s doing right now is just rare, so let’s just sit back and enjoy it.”
Spieth certainly seems to be enjoying it. And why wouldn’t he be?
The last five times he has carried a lead into the last day he has gone on to win. Three of his last five victories have come by eight, four and four.
Since last year’s U.S. Open, Spieth is 139 under in 48 worldwide rounds. He has won four of those starts, finished second in two others and fourth in two more.
Was this week simply a continuation of last season, or something more?
It’s a new year, but the same story, particularly with his putter.
Spieth led the field in strokes gained tee-to-green and strokes gained-putting, took just 23 putts in the third round, and for the week made seven putts from outside 10 feet, including four from home run range outside 25 feet.
He compared his performance with the flat stick this week to that of last year, when he won five times, including two major championships, and captured the FedExCup, ranking the output behind only his Masters and TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola performances.
“My putter felt great, which is huge to start your first tournament back and not really feel like you have to work much on putting, other than getting the speed down,” Spieth said. “My putting feels like it is 100 percent ready for major championships, and I've just got to just dial in everything else just a little bit more. I can sit here and say that my putting certainly is ready for the Masters to be next week.”
Unfortunately, he’ll have to wait until April like the rest of us.
As for those comparisons to Woods, they are, to a degree, warranted.
After some early failings, the world No. 1 has shown an ability to close out a tournament when in front the same way Woods used to.
He has also produced his share of highlight-reel moments, like the eagle that was nearly an albatross on the final hole of Saturday’s round.
But Spieth isn't biting. That just wouldn’t be his style.
On the 18th hole Sunday, Spieth’s caddie turned to him and said, “Way to make a statement.”
Spieth prefers actions over words.
“I just think it's premature, but I'll say that probably my entire career,” he said of the comparisons to Woods. “I know what he did and what -- I just find it hard to believe that it can be matched. I know we're in a position now where we're actually maybe ahead of the curve age-wise. But, boy, it would be hard to believe I could be compared to him the entire course of a career. I hope that's the case, but I'm certainly going to strive for it.
“What he has done for the game of golf is something special and I just don't feel I deserve to necessarily be compared to him right now, but maybe I do. I don't know. Personally I don't think so.”
But what if? What if?