Dallas’ Jordan Spieth will Push Tiger Aside
Tiger Woods announced on Tuesday that he is withdrawing from the Arnold Palmer Invitational tournament. That’s not a small thing, first Tiger has won this tournament 8 times altogether and 4 of the past 5 years. He obviously loves the course and knows how to play it. Secondly, he’s now dropped out of 2 of the last 4 tournaments he’s played. He quit after 13 holes in the final round of the Honda Classic three weeks ago. All for the same reason, back spasms. While having a bad back isn’t anything new for golfers, it is unusual for a guy like Tiger. He prides himself on being more physically fit than anyone else on tour. Maybe better than anyone else who’s ever played the game.
But it also leads me to another conclusion, that he’s feeling the heat of Dallas’ Jordan Spieth. That’s right, the 20 year old Dallas golfer who took the PGA Tour by storm last year. He not only won a tournament at a younger age than Tiger, he also played in a President’s Cup earlier and made the Tour Championship younger. Those are some pretty incredible statistics. But it’s not just Jordan that has Tiger trembling in his back–it’s Patrick Reed and Keegan Bradley and Rory McIlroy and others. So many good, young golfers who stand in the way of Tiger and the number 19.
That’s the magic number that Tiger needs to get to to pass Jack Nicklaus in major championships. 5 years ago it seemed like a forgone conclusion that Tiger would win 19, 20, maybe 25 majors before he was done. Now he’s stuck on 14 and can’t seem to sniff 15. Smart money is on these young, confident players to catch Tiger and pass him in the near future. Spieth is the prime candidate. He is so good and so young that even comparisons to Tiger aren’t overblown. Spieth made it on the PGA Tour without going to qualifying school…he just played well enough in the handful of tournaments he was allowed to play in, to earn his Tour card. The last player to do that was–Tiger.
After winning the Cadillac Championship in Miami a week ago, Reed proclaimed to the world that he considered himself a top 5 player. Bold talk for a guy who was virtually unheard of 12 months ago, but it points out the problem Tiger has. It’s not just that Tiger has a bad back, it’s that he’s 38 years old, has health issues and there is an ever-growing list of under 25 players who could care less about his reputation. Just like Tiger didn’t care about Nicklaus, or Watson, or Hogan or any of the greats. Not in a disrespectful way but in a “yea they were great, but that was a long time ago and now it’s my time,” kind of way. Spieth tee’s the ball up every tournament expecting to win. Doesn’t matter if Tiger or Phil or Ernie is in the field, Spieth expects to beat them. Had he stayed at the University of Texas he’d just be a junior right now. Instead, he’s kicking ass and preparing to play in the Masters in three weeks and the U.S. and British Open and the Ryder Cup. And he can’t legally drink.
Tiger may miss the Palmer this week with a bad back but he’s going to miss #19 because he let 5 years go by without winning a major and Spieth and a few others have slammed the window on his head.