2015- Jordan Spieth’s Magical Year


The 2014-2015 PGA Tour season belonged to one man. Jordan Spieth. Two Major’s, a $10 million payout and becoming the worlds best player. This is a recap of his incredible season.

Spieth started his season in November 2014 at the HSBC Champions World Golf Championship finishing tied for 35th place after being unable to post a sub-70 round. December came along and a trip down under to compete in the Hero World Challenge proved to be the foundation for what was about to be his best season to date. Despite not being an official event rounds of 66, 67, 63 and a final round 66 helped Spieth post 26-under-par and blow away the field to pick up his first win of the season.

He won his first FedEx Cup points of the season in January at the Waste Management Phoenix Open where a final round 65 helped him to finish tied for 7th place. A missed cut at the Farmers Insurance Open was followed up by two top-10 finishes at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and the Northern Trust Open in the following fortnight.

 (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Spieth was starting to show signs of improvement and the month of March was the month where he seemed to change gear approaching the first Major of the year. He became only the fourth player to win twice on the PGA Tour before his 22nd birthday when he won the Valspar Championship in a three-man playoff alongside Patrick Reed and Sean O’Hair. After the win he talked about one day becoming the best player in the game:

“That’s our ultimate goal is to eventually, you know, be the best in the world and this is a great, great stepping stone. But going into the four majors of the year, to have closed one out in this kind of fashion is going to give me a lot of confidence.”

The confidence was certainly there and when he drove down Magnolia Lane for the first Major of the season he could not have dreamed what the next week had in store. An opening round of 64 gave Spieth a 3-shot advantage over Jason Day, Ernie Els, Charley Hoffman and Englishman Justin Rose. He carried on his dominance with a second round of 66 to open up a 5-shot advantage over Hoffman. He did the damage early on and 3rd and 4th rounds of 70 gave Spieth a 4-shot victory and won his first Major Championship. The way he blew away the field was very similar to Tiger Woods in his prime and the victory at Augusta allowed the young Texan to dream of many more Major successes.

He followed his maiden Major victory up with an outstanding performance at the U.S Open where the week was dominated by talk of the course condition at Chambers Bay. After the first round Spieth found himself three shots adrift from leaders Dustin Johnson and Henrik Stenson, a second round 67 was enough to see him tied for the lead alongside Patrick Reed. Spieth was looking like the player everyone had been predicting he could become and he was battling hard to keep himself at the top of the leaderboard. Dustin Johnson was threatening to spoil the party though, and when he had a 12-foot eagle putt and two putts to win his first Major, Spieth was expecting the worst. Johnson missed the first putt and Spieth was gearing up for a Monday playoff, that was until Johnson missed the resulting 3-foot birdie putt and all of a sudden Spieth was a two-time Major winner. The win made Spieth the first player to win two Majors before the age of 22 since Gene Sarazen in 1922 and the youngest U.S Open Champion since Bobby Jones in 1923. All of a sudden Jordan Spieth was a major force to be reckoned with in the world of Golf.

 (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

His success at the opening two Majors of the year drew attention and made him the main attraction at the Open Championship at St Andrews in July. He was aiming to win his third Major in a row and carry on his incredible run. However, it was agony for Spieth as his birdie effort at the last hole during the final round meant he finished one shot back of the playoff and tied for 4th place overall. All in all his efforts at The Old Course were impressive for a man with so much pressure on his shoulders. He vowed to brush himself down and get ready for the final Major of the year at the PGA Championship.

He arrived at Whistling Straits as favourite, but the week belonged to Australian Jason Day. Like Spieth, Day was also one shot off the playoff at St Andrews and was showing signs that his first Major was just around the corner. It would come with a dominant display at the PGA Championship. Spieth finished his Major season with a 2nd place finish, making it by far his best season on Tour in the Majors.

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

With the Major season over, attention turned to the FedEx Cup Playoffs and after such a brilliant season things threatened to turn sour when Spieth missed two consecutive cuts at the Barclays and then at the Deutsche Bank Championship. Despite the missed cuts Spieth still remained on top of the FedEx Cup rankings and that position was consolidated with a tied for 13th finish at the BMW Championship, the penultimate event of the playoffs. He entered the Tour Championship needing a final win to secure the $10million bonus. Four consecutive rounds in the 60’s guaranteed the win he needed and he was crowned the FedEx Cup Champion.

The win meant that Spieth had won over $22million in prize money for 2015,surpassing Tiger Woods record of $20.9million back in 2007. So how exactly did Spieth go from a one-time PGA Tour winner to a two-time Major Champion and FedEx Cup Champion in the space of two seasons. When you compare his stats to 2014, you can see exactly why he had the success he had.

                                                                   2014                              2015

Scoring average:                              69.946   (14th)      v       68.938    (1st)

Strokes gained tee-to-green        0.512   (38th)        v       1.511    (4th)

Strokes gained putting                  0.398   (20th)       v       0.572   (8th)

Greens in regulation                      62.47%   (152nd)    v       67.87%  (49th)

 

Spieth made 701 one-putts (44.26%) and made 1,031 putts inside 10-feet (88.20%). It’s clear to see that his putting over the course of the season made him the player he is today and he will look to carry that form into the 2015-2016 season.

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The 2015 Major Championship course guide


The 2015 season has already been full of drama with early wins for Rory McIlroy, Patrick Reed and two-time Open winner Padraig Harrington. We have seen some stunning courses played so far this year,  so let’s take a look at the courses hosting Major Championships this season, the best holes, the toughest challenges and of course some memories from past events.

 Augusta National, The Masters tournament, April 9th– 12th

What can we say about Augusta National? Driving through the gates and down Magnolia lane to the famous clubhouse must be one of the most spine-tingling moments in a professional golfer’s career. Walking out onto the first tee knowing you’ll be playing at least 36 holes at a course steeped in history, with beautiful landscape and scenery and facing some of the most famous holes in the game is the dream for any young golfer.

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Amen corner, holes 11, 12 and 13, is probably the most difficult part of the course. A treacherous par-4 downhill, with trees to the right off the tee and water to the left of the fast-paced green. A short par-3 over water to a narrow green, with a run-off area at the front and two bunkers, one in front, and one behind. Finally a dog-leg to the left par-5 with a second shot over water. If you can play Amen Corner in level par or better you’ll be on course for a good round of golf.

In 2010, Phil Mickelson played one of the most courageous and gutsy shots you are ever likely to see. After finding the trees from the 13th tee, Mickelson hits his second shot through a small gap in the trees to 8-feet. A shot worthy of the green jacket he went on to win for the 3rd time.

 

Chambers Bay Golf Club, The U.S Open, June 18th -21st

The 2015 U.S Open is being held in Washington State, at the newly developed Chambers Bay Golf Club, a links course with some very interesting holes.

The first hole is a welcoming par-5 that players will be able to reach in two. A very good birdie opportunity. The 9th hole is very tough looking par-3 that plays at 227-yards downhill. With an additional lower tee box added for the U.S Open this hole will certainly not be an easy one to escape with a par. The driveable par-4 12th hole offers players a good birdie chance, and a chance that may have to be taken with another tough par-4 on the next hole.

This is the first time the course will have held a U.S Open in its history, and it’s sure to be a very interesting week on the links.

 

St Andrew’s Old Course, The Open Championship, July 16th – 19th

The ‘home of golf’ will be host to this year’s Open Championship. A place that Jack Nicklaus had his final Open Championship as a professional golfer and seen famous wins from Nick Faldo in 1990 and Seve Ballesteros in 1984.

When the wind gets going along the coastline, St Andrew’s can really be a difficult test for anyone in the world of golf. But on a good day, it can be a very rewarding golf course. The course record is a round of 62, shared by Victor Dubuisson, Goerge Coetzee, Paul Casey, Tommy Fleetwood and Louis Oosthuizen. The famous road hole bunker on the 17th hole is something all players will look to avoid, otherwise it will be an extremely tough up and down with no guarantee of making par.

St Andrew’s has seen many great Championships, but how can we forget the 1995 Open Championship at the 72nd hole when Costantino Rocca fluffed his chip into the valley of sin, then make a 65-foot birdie out to force a play-off with eventual winner John Daly. An absolutely astonishing moment at one of the most famous golf courses in the game.

 

Whistling Straits, The PGA Championship, August 13th– 16th

Whistling Straits, the home of the 2004 and 2010 PGA Championship, is arguably one of the greatest championship courses in the United States.

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The course, which is sculpted alongside the Lake Michigan shoreline, offers another tough links test, especially the 4th hole, the longest of the par-4’s. Undulating greens and pot bunkers mean birdies will be tough to find, the main thing for players here is too remain below par. Eight of the holes on the course hug the lake, which makes for good drama when a tee shot is hooked or sliced.

In 2010 Martin Kaymer won his first major championship after beating two-time Masters Champion Bubba Watson in a play-off. Kaymer won on the 3rd play-off hole with a bogey putt after Watson found the hazard with his second shot from the rough.

 

Each course has its own challenges, but with three of the four Majors this year being played on links courses, whoever is going to prosper this season will have to be someone who has good ball control and is used to playing in tricky conditions. We can’t wait for the first Major of the year.