No Sunday Funday for Spieth…Again
Just when it seemed like Jordan Spieth might take a giant step towards helping the golf world forget about Tiger Woods, he goes and forgets the most important part – winning. Spieth was playing head to head with Martin Kaymer in the final round of The Players Championship Sunday and the eyes of golf were upon him. The Players is considered the “fifth” major by many people. Not officially a major championship, The Players however features possibly the best field of any tournament all year. With Tiger out indefinitely because of back surgery, the opportunity is there for someone to step forward to replace Eldrick as the premiere golfer on the planet. Spieth tied Kaymer on the final hole Saturday to hold a share of the lead heading into the the final round yesterday. That put Spieth in the final pairing, just like three weeks ago at the Masters.
Spieth let that opportunity slip away as well, giving up the lead with mistakes at the 8th and 9th holes. Spieth did almost the exact same thing at The Players, fumbling the 8th and 9th holes to drop out of the lead and finishing in a tie for fourth. So instead of Spieth being hailed as the “next coming,” he’s being asked if he’s a choker. If Spieth had just shot a 1-under on Sunday, he might have won. Instead, while the rest of the top 20 we’re no worse than 1-over, Spieth fired a 2-over 74.
Not getting it done in the final round isn’t what will make everyone forget about Woods. Spieth has done a heroic job of coming from virtually nowhere to the number 7 player in the world, but the truly great ones come through when it matters. We all know Spieth has all the ability in the world, but does he have the heart and head and guts to become one of the greats of his era? He’ll play this week here in his backyard at the Byron Nelson Championship and most fans will be there to watch him. That’s a lot of pressure for a 20-year-old, but he’s dealt with pressure on the golf course his whole life…and come through.
If he could have held on at the Players and won, it would have not only elevated his status in the Tiger-less world of pro golf, but given him the self confidence that he could beat the best and possibly made this a year to remember. It would be the best thing to happen to professional golf since Woods turned pro, because all sports need great rivalries. The young gun Spieth stealing Tiger’s thunder while he’s injured would have set up a classic rivalry for maybe the next 10 years. But Spieth didn’t finish the job at Augusta and he fell on his face again at The Players. Can he become an all-time great? Hard to say right now. He’ll obviously get many more chances, he’ll just need different outcomes to make it a reality.