Category archive: Jordan Spieth

SpiethAP Photo/Rick RycroftAfter winning the Australian Open by six strokes, Jordan Spieth flew to Florida where he will play this week in the Hero World Challenge.

WINDERMERE, Fla. -- Sushi on Thanksgiving sucks.

Great win last week, Jordan Spieth. So "what'd you do for Thanksgiving" is how the conversation on the 10th tee started with Spieth during his pro-am round Wednesday at the Hero World Challenge.

"We ate sushi," he said. "Let me tell you, man, sushi on Thanksgiving sucks. I can't believe how much I missed being home for Thanksgiving, dude."

Last week, during the course of winning the Australian Open, Spieth was paired with Aussie Adam Scott on Thursday and somehow the subject of Thanksgiving came up during the round.

Jordan said that Scott asked, "Oh yeah, that's going on sometime soon, right?"

Spieth replied, "Today, actually." Spieth told the story with a tone of disappointment, even though he ended up winning the tournament by shooting a blistering 63 on Sunday.

"My family kept sending pictures of Thanksgiving dinner and I just couldn't look at them," said Spieth's caddie, Michael Greller.

Then both Spieth and Greller started to tell me what each family was serving for the main meal, which made my stomach growl. Thank goodness for free snacks in the media center!

Jordan Spieth talks about his first round

June, 12, 2014
06/12/14
2:53
PM ET

Jordan Spieth says he had fun in the first round of the U.S. Open.

Jordan Spieth's growth is astounding

March, 10, 2014
03/10/14
1:09
PM ET

One year ago this week, when the PGA Tour was in the midst of its annual Florida swing, then-19-year-old Jordan Spieth had no official PGA Tour status.

Trivia question

Kevin Streelman made the Tampa Bay Championship (as it was then called) his first PGA Tour win in 2013. What other two players have also done that at this week's event? Answer below

He wasn't even in the field for the first half of it. Ranked outside the top 600 in the Official World Golf Ranking, Spieth parlayed a T-2nd finish in the alternate-field tournament the previous week in Puerto Rico into a tee time at Copperhead.

And while fanatical golf heads might have kept tabs on the happenings in Puerto Rico that week, it was the T-7th finish in Tampa that really started to gather attention. That week at Copperhead served as a springboard for Spieth to go on a run that hasn't really stopped since.

In commemoration of the first anniversary, we at Numbers Game would like to dive into a few of the most remarkable stats young Jordan has accrued since the beginning of last year. After all, we in the golf world will likely be talking about this player for a long time to come.



Fans of the game are treated to brief glimpses of brilliance by golf's young stars from time to time. But to see consistently great play out of someone who can't legally buy a beer in the United States is truly remarkable.

Spieth has 11 top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour since the beginning of 2013. According to the Elias Sports Bureau data, that's tied for the most in that span with Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and Graham DeLaet.

Not overly impressed by that company? Consider this, then. Spieth has seven top-five finishes in that span. Elias tells us that the only player with more is Dustin Johnson -- and Spieth is tied for second with Henrik Stenson, Zach Johnson and Tiger Woods.

Meaning, Spieth has more top-five finishes on the Tour since the beginning of last year than 10 of the top 15 players in this week's OWGR, including Adam Scott, Jason Day, Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy.

And with a remarkable five first- or second place finishes in that span, Spieth trails only Woods (6) -- and is tied for second with Stenson and Dustin Johnson, according to Elias data.


After missing the cut in his first PGA Tour start of 2013 at Torrey Pines, Spieth ranked 810th in the world -- a mere 510 spots away from actually being on the PDF document emailed out by the OWGR folks every Sunday evening. He was less than an afterthought on the world stage at that point. The climb Spieth has made since then has been nothing short of astronomical.

A top-10 in April at the RBC Heritage moved Spieth into the top 200 for the first time. His first career victory at the John Deere Classic moved him into 59th from 120th. By the time the Presidents Cup finished, Jordan was a top-20 player. Spieth is ranked 13th in the world this week, between Bubba Watson and Steve Stricker.

As impressive as that is, Jordan nearly hit truly-rarified air in Arizona this February. Spieth was defeated in the quarterfinals of the WGC-Accenture Match Play last month by Ernie Els. Had Jordan won that event (a tall ask, but certainly not out of the question), he was projected to move into the top five in the world.


The PGA Tour's "all-around ranking" takes into account scoring, putting, eagles, birdies, greens in regulation, sand saves, driving distance and driving accuracy. In a nutshell, it includes most of the important things that go into a round of golf. In 2013, Spieth ranked third on the PGA Tour in the all-around ranking, behind only Woods and Stricker.

Spieth ranked in the top 20 in driving accuracy last year, but when he did miss the fairway, the numbers say it wasn't affecting him adversely. Spieth led the Tour in average approach shot proximity from the rough -- his approaches from the thick stuff were about 6 feet closer than that of the average Tour pro.

Much has been made of Jordan's competitive drive and ability to make clutch shots at such a young age. Despite ranking just 60th in strokes gained in putting for the 2013 season, his putting numbers were better in later rounds.

Jordan ranked T-102nd on the PGA Tour last year in first-round putting. Those numbers improved in each round of play -- T-95th in the second round, 21st in the third, and seventh in the fourth.

Trivia answer

Question: Kevin Streelman made the Tampa Bay Championship (as it was then called) his first PGA Tour win in 2013. What other two players have also done that at this week's event? ?

Answer: Gary Woodland (2011) and Carl Pettersson (2005).

If there has been one knock on Spieth's play in 2014, however, it has been what he has done on Saturdays. Twice this year, Spieth had at least a share of the 36-hole lead -- at both Torrey Pines and Pebble Beach. Spieth shot a combined plus-9 in those two third rounds, missing a staggering total of 13 putts of less than 10 feet. That has translated to a third-round scoring average outside of the top 150 on the Tour.

That hasn't stopped Spieth's popularity as a pick at Augusta, however. Las Vegas house odds have Spieth going at 25-to-1 currently to win the Masters. Only six players have better odds right now: Woods, McIlroy, Jason Day, Mickelson, Scott and Dustin Johnson.

Spieth makes his Masters debut this year. No player has won the Masters in their first attempt since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979.

Three on the Tee: Northern Trust Open

February, 10, 2014
02/10/14
1:35
PM ET

Beautifully positioned in Hollywood's backyard, Riviera Country Club has been the home course for movie stars for decades. But the course isn't notable just for its member register -- it also holds a strong grip on its place in golf history.

In an eighteen-month span in 1947 and 1948, Ben Hogan won at Riviera three times -- twice at the Los Angeles Open, and then carding third- and fourth-rounds scores of 68 and 69 to defeat Jimmy Demaret by 2 shots at the 1949 U.S. Open.

Trivia question

John Merrick got his first PGA Tour win last year at the Northern Trust Open. Before him, who was the last to accomplish that? Answer below
Sixteen of the top 30 players in the Official World Golf Ranking are in the field this week at Hogan's Alley, looking to add their names to a list of champions that also includes Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson. With those historic names in mind, the "Three on the Tee" starter calls:

Jimmy Walker

From 2001 through the end of the 2013 season, the 35-year-old journeyman made 187 starts on the PGA Tour. He had no wins, and a grand total of three top-three finishes.

This season? Three wins in eight starts on the tour's new wraparound schedule. Walker has made a little more than $10.9 million in earnings in his PGA Tour career, and more than a third of that has come this season.

Back to the three wins in eight starts -- you would be correct if you thought that Walker has walked right into rarefied air with his performance this season. Since 2000, the only player to win three times in fewer than eight starts is Tiger Woods, who has done it on five different occasions. The last player besides Woods to get to three victories as quickly as Walker was Phil Mickelson in 2005 (also doing it in eight starts).

With so much of the year left to play, the possibility of Walker getting to a fourth win is a very realistic one. Should he accomplish that, he'll become just the third different player since 2006 to win four or more times in a season. The other two are Woods (five times) and Rory McIlroy in 2012.

Ranked in the top-50 on the PGA Tour in strokes gained putting each of the previous three seasons, Walker has taken a big step forward on the greens so far this year. Walker was 46th in that statistic last season and third this year.

And where Walker ranked T-75 and 50th, respectively, in putting inside 10 feet and putts between 4 and 8 feet last season, he's now 10th in each statistic in 2013-14.

Jordan Spieth

Another week, another ho-hum T-4 finish for the 20-year-old Spieth at Pebble Beach. This week, he returns to the site of his biggest collegiate achievement -- where the Texas Longhorns won the 2012 national championship at Riviera Country Club, knocking off Alabama in the final. This is Spieth's second career PGA Tour start at the Northern Trust Open -- he missed the cut in 2012 as an amateur, learning the terrain in advance of that summer's NCAA championship.

Spieth has jumped into 13th in the Official World Golf Ranking this week. After Pebble Beach last year, he was 692nd. Another good finish this week at Riviera could vault Spieth into the top-10 for the first time in his career.

Spieth will be 20 years, 6 months and 20 days old this Sunday. Should Spieth ascend into the top-10 next week, he would nearly match the pace set by another phenom, who has since gone on to win multiple major championships. Rory McIlroy first entered the top-10 following the 2009 Dubai World Championship. His age: 20 years, 6 months and 18 days.

Trivia answer

Question: John Merrick got his first career PGA Tour win last year at the Northern Trust Open. Before Merrick, who was the last player to accomplish that?

Answer: Len Mattiace, 2002.

Bill Haas

In 2013, Spieth and Brandt Snedeker were part of the three-way tie for first on tour in top-10 finishes with nine apiece. Haas was the third part of that triumvirate, picking up one of those high finishes at Riviera. Haas held a 3-shot lead entering the final round before faltering with a Sunday 73, finishing tied for third.

Haas won this event in 2012 in a playoff over major champions Mickelson and Keegan Bradley. Over the past two years, Haas is 17-under at the Northern Trust Open; second-best in that two-year span is Freddie Jacobson at 12-under-par.

There's something about the greens at Riviera that fit Haas' eye. In 2012, Haas ranked 74th on tour in strokes gained putting for the year, but was third in the field that week in the stat. Last year, he was 47th for the season, but fourth for the week at Riviera in strokes gained putting.

If we are treated to a playoff for the third consecutive year here, it will mark just the second time in tournament history that has happened. The then-named Los Angeles Open had four straight playoffs from 1969 to 1972.

Breakout candidates for 2014

February, 4, 2014
02/04/14
6:51
AM ET

A quick scan of the leaderboards at the biggest golf tournaments in the world on any given week will tell you that the sport's future is in a secure place.

Five of the top 20 players in this week's world ranking are under the age of 30. There's a two-time major champion walking the Earth right now who isn't yet 25, and the reigning PGA Tour Rookie of the Year can't legally buy a beer yet in the United States.

So which players are best-positioned to move from promising to among the world's best? We at Numbers Game present five players who we believe are poised to take the next big steps in their respective careers -- the breakout players of 2014:

Trivia question

Who holds the course record at Pebble Beach Golf Links? (Answer below)

Jason Day

Day's star power in the world of golf is undeniable. At 26 years old and 10th in the Official World Golf Ranking, Day has been a member of the past two Presidents Cup teams on the International side. So it's almost shocking that he has just a single win on the PGA Tour -- and that was in May 2010.

To say Day has a habit of rising to the occasion is an understatement. Day has 10 career top-three finishes in his PGA Tour career. Four of them have come in majors, and four more have come in either WGC or FedExCup events. In 13 career major starts, Day has six top-10 finishes and finished runner-up three times. And on another difficult course setup -- two weeks ago at Torrey Pines -- Day finished tied for second. The South Course at Torrey Pines played an average of plus-1.8 shots over par for the week of the Farmers Insurance Open, by far the toughest course on tour so far this season.

Day is one of two players to finish in the top three at the Masters twice in the past three years. Fellow countryman and last year's champion, Adam Scott, is the other. At the U.S. Open, Day is the only player to accomplish that feat, finishing second in 2011 and tied for second in 2013.

[+] Enlarge
Graham DeLaet
David Cannon/Getty ImagesGraham DeLaet already has a Presidents Cup appearance under his belt, but he could have an even bigger year in 2014.

Graham DeLaet

At the end of the 2013 season, DeLaet's extremely strong play at The Barclays and the Deutsche Bank Championship netted him more than $1 million in earnings and a spot on the Presidents Cup team. His improved putting, however, should lead him to even bigger things this year.

DeLaet's ball-striking ability has never been the question -- last year, he ranked third on tour in greens in regulation percentage (70.5) and led the tour in total driving. He also ranked inside the top 20 in both driving distance and average approach shot proximity. But DeLaet was 76th in strokes gained putting, 120th on putts made between 10 and 15 feet, and outside the top 100 on tour in several other key putting statistics.

DeLaet has finished tied for second in each of the past two weeks, and his putting is no small reason why -- he was 11th in the field in strokes gained putting at Torrey Pines, then sixth at TPC Scottsdale. DeLaet now ranks sixth on tour this season in the statistic, and is third in average distance of putts made. If DeLaet breaks into the winner's circle before the Masters, it should be no surprise.

Hideki Matsuyama

Just 21 years old and already 22nd in the world ranking, Matsuyama already has a pair of top-10 major finishes to his credit. The two-time Asian Amateur champion is lauded for his swing -- and the early returns in this wraparound season bear that out: top-20 finishes each of the past two weeks, including a tie for fourth at TPC Scottsdale. In 12 stateside official rounds this season, Matsuyama has shot par or better all 12 times with eight of those rounds in the 60s.

Matsuyama currently ranks inside the top 15 on tour in strokes gained putting, driving distance and average approach shot proximity. He's the only player currently in the top 15 in all three of those statistics.

Jordan Spieth

There have been countless superlatives used to describe Spieth's meteoric rise in the past 12 months, and it's hard to say any of them haven't been well-deserved.

Spieth won the John Deere Classic last year at age 19 -- the first teenager to win on tour in more than 80 years. When Fred Couples made him a captain's pick for the Presidents Cup, Spieth became the youngest team member ever on the U.S. side. And two weeks ago at Torrey Pines, he nearly became the youngest two-time winner on tour since 1932. Spieth tied for the most top-10 finishes on tour last year with nine, and was the first player since Tiger Woods in 1996 to go from no tour status to qualifying for the Tour Championship. We at Numbers Game would call that a decent year, to say the least.

Spieth doesn't have a top-20 finish in four major starts, but the 20-year-old definitely has the talent and demeanor to win on golf's biggest stages, as his amateur career would seem to dictate. In Spieth's lone full season at the University of Texas, he was a Ben Hogan Award finalist and led the Longhorns to the NCAA championship. He's also one of just two players to win the U.S. Junior Amateur multiple times. The other? Tiger.

Trivia answer

Question: Who holds the course record at Pebble Beach Golf Links?

Answer: 62: David Duval (1997) and Tom Kite (1983).

Harris English

With a near-flatline heart rate seemingly at all times, the unflappable 24-year-old is already a two-time winner on the PGA Tour. No player has made more birdies this season than English, who currently is fifth on tour in adjusted scoring average. In 32 official rounds this season, English has carded scores of par or better 31 times, including all 16 rounds since Jan. 1.

English has made the cut in all three of his previous major championship starts, and this year will make his first career appearance at Augusta National. Expect English to be a contender during at least one of the majors this year.

Breakout candidates for 2014

February, 3, 2014
02/03/14
1:55
PM ET

A quick scan of the leaderboards at the biggest golf tournaments in the world on any given week will tell you that the sport's future is in a secure place.

Five of the top 20 players in this week's world ranking are under the age of 30. There's a two-time major champion walking the Earth right now who isn't yet 25, and the reigning PGA Tour Rookie of the Year can't legally buy a beer yet in the United States.

So which players are best-positioned to move from promising to among the world's best? We at Numbers Game present five players who we believe are poised to take the next big steps in their respective careers -- the breakout players of 2014:

Trivia question

Who holds the course record at Pebble Beach Golf Links? (Answer below)

Jason Day

Day's star power in the world of golf is undeniable. At 26 years old and 10th in the Official World Golf Ranking, Day has been a member of the past two Presidents Cup teams on the International side. So it's almost shocking that he has just a single win on the PGA Tour -- and that was in May 2010.

To say Day has a habit of rising to the occasion is an understatement. Day has 10 career top-three finishes in his PGA Tour career. Four of them have come in majors, and four more have come in either WGC or FedExCup events. In 13 career major starts, Day has six top-10 finishes and finished runner-up three times. And on another difficult course setup -- two weeks ago at Torrey Pines -- Day finished tied for second. The South Course at Torrey Pines played an average of plus-1.8 shots over par for the week of the Farmers Insurance Open, by far the toughest course on Tour so far this season.

Day is one of two players to finish in the top three at the Masters twice in the past three years. Fellow countryman and last year's champion, Adam Scott, is the other. At the U.S. Open, Day is the only player to accomplish that feat, finishing second in 2011 and tied for second in 2013.

[+] Enlarge
Graham DeLaet
David Cannon/Getty ImagesGraham DeLaet already has a Presidents Cup appearance under his belt, but he could have an even bigger year in 2014.

Graham DeLaet

At the end of the 2013 season, DeLaet's extremely strong play at The Barclays and the Deutsche Bank Championship netted him more than $1 million in earnings and a spot on the Presidents Cup team. His improved putting, however, should lead him to even bigger things this year.

DeLaet's ball-striking ability has never been the question -- last year, he ranked third on Tour in greens in regulation percentage (70.5) and led the Tour in total driving. He also ranked inside the top 20 in both driving distance and average approach shot proximity. But DeLaet was 76th in strokes gained putting, 120th on putts made between 10 and 15 feet, and outside the top 100 on tour in several other key putting statistics.

DeLaet has finished tied for second in each of the past two weeks, and his putting is no small reason why -- he was 11th in the field in strokes gained putting at Torrey Pines, then sixth at TPC Scottsdale. DeLaet now ranks sixth on Tour this season in the statistic, and is third in average distance of putts made. If DeLaet breaks into the winner's circle before the Masters, it should be no surprise.

Hideki Matsuyama

Just 21 years old and already 22nd in the world ranking, Matsuyama already has a pair of top-10 major finishes to his credit. The two-time Asian Amateur champion is lauded for his swing -- and the early returns in this wraparound season bear that out: top-20 finishes each of the past two weeks, including a tie for fourth at TPC Scottsdale. In 12 stateside official rounds this season, Matsuyama has shot par or better all 12 times with eight of those rounds in the 60s.

Matsuyama currently ranks inside the top 15 on Tour in strokes gained putting, driving distance and average approach shot proximity. He's the only player currently in the top 15 in all three of those statistics.

Jordan Spieth

There have been countless superlatives used to describe Spieth's meteoric rise in the past 12 months, and it's hard to say any of them haven't been well-deserved.

Spieth won the John Deere Classic last year at age 19 -- the first teenager to win on Tour in more than 80 years. When Fred Couples made him a captain's pick for the Presidents Cup, Spieth became the youngest team member ever on the U.S. side. And two weeks ago at Torrey Pines, he nearly became the youngest two-time winner on Tour since 1932. Spieth tied for the most top-10 finishes on Tour last year with nine, and was the first player since Tiger Woods in 1996 to go from no Tour status to qualifying for the Tour Championship. We at Numbers Game would call that a decent year, to say the least.

Spieth doesn't have a top-20 finish in four major starts, but the 20-year-old definitely has the talent and demeanor to win on golf's biggest stages, as his amateur career would seem to dictate. In Spieth's lone full season at the University of Texas, he was a Ben Hogan Award finalist and led the Longhorns to the NCAA championship. He's also one of just two players to win the U.S. Junior Amateur multiple times. The other? Tiger.

Trivia answer

Question: Who holds the course record at Pebble Beach Golf Links?

Answer: 62: David Duval (1997) and Tom Kite (1983).

Harris English

With a near-flatline heart rate seemingly at all times, the unflappable 24-year-old Englishman is already a two-time winner on the Tour. No player has made more birdies this season than English, who currently is fifth on Tour in adjusted scoring average. In 32 official rounds this season, English has carded scores of par or better 31 times, including all 16 rounds since Jan. 1.

English has made the cut in all three of his previous major championship starts, and this year will make his first career appearance at Augusta National. Expect English to be a contender during at least one of the majors this year.