For any of myriad reasons, good and bad, being compared to Tiger Woods is not the way Jordan Spieth would like to go forward at this juncture of his professional golfing career.
When Spieth closed with an improbable stretch on the final five holes of the 2017 Open Championship, the rush to conjure up comparisons to Woods in his prime were quick to follow.
Yet, winning the Open was the perfect way to exorcise the demons from his collapse in The Masters in 2016, something Spieth himself said was important for his self-perception.
Spieth was quoted in the New York Post, saying, “Closing [Sunday] was extremely important for the way I look at myself.”
Spieth, a keen golf historian, may have been making reference to the 1989 Masters debacle known as “Hoch’s Choke,” when Scott Hoke had only to make a two-foot putt to win The Masters. Hoch missed the putt and although he went on to win on the PGA Tour before the month of April was over, as well as seven more times, he never erased the taint of blowing his chance at a Major. It would be five times before Hoch again found himself in the winners’ circle and he never finished above fifth in a Major.
Winning The Open in the fashion that he did proved to Spieth and the world that he has the killer instinct to ratchet his game up a level under pressure, not just ordinary tournament pressure, but Major championship pressure.
Rory McIllroy, owner of four Major victories, knows the agony of glowing a big lead in The Masters, so his comments regarding Spieth’s win carried extra weight. “He’s a fighter,’’ said McIllroy. “He’s shown that the whole way through his short career. He can dig himself out of these holes. He’s an absolute star.’’
Spieth was quick to quell comparisons between himself and Tiger Woods.
“I don’t compare myself,’’ Spieth said. “I don’t think that they (comparisons) are appropriate or necessary. To be in that company no doubt is absolutely incredible and I certainly appreciate it. But I’m very careful as to what that means going forward, because what those guys have done has transcended the sport.”