Spieth wins Hero World Challenge for 3rd pro victory
Photo by Tracy Wilcox
Jordan Spieth won his second event in as many weeks Sunday at the Hero World Challenge.
By Brentley Romine
WINDERMERE, Fla. –– During a week in which much of the early buzz surrounded Tiger Woods and his return to competitive golf, by the time Sunday evening fell on Isleworth Golf and Country it was 21-year-old Jordan Spieth who was the center of attention.
Spieth, who a week prior had closed with 63 to win the Emirates Australian Open, was even better in 72 holes at the Hero World Challenge, shooting 26-under 262 to break Woods’ previous tournament record (22 under at Sherwood Country Club in 2007) by four shots and win by a record 10 shots.
“This was the best that I’ve ever played, which is what I said in Sydney last week,” Spieth said. “I played better this week.”
Spieth rode the momentum from his win Down Under nicely, becoming the World Challenge’s first wire-to-wire champion. He made 23 birdies in the first three rounds as he shot 66-67-63 to open up a seven-shot cushion on the field.
“It was a one-horse race here coming into Sunday. All the rest of us had to do was battle for second,” said Henrik Stenson, who finished runner-up at a more-than-respectable 16 under.
On Sunday, with victory seemingly well in hand, Spieth didn’t let off the gas. He birdied three of his first four holes and added an eagle at the par-5 seventh.
“I wanted to go over there and tackle him and break his putter,” said Keegan Bradley, Spieth’s final-round playing competitor. “He was pretty much unbeatable this week.”
After the eagle, Spieth, like he’s done his whole career, kept setting more goals.
“After I made it to the turn, I wanted to get to 30 (under),” Spieth said. “I thought it would be a cool number that I’ve never even sniffed. That wasn’t going to be the case on 13 and 14 there.”
Despite a double bogey at the par-4 14th hole, Spieth remained in control on the back nine as he added three more birdies to run his tournament total to 29. A two-putt par on the par-4 18th hole gave him a 66 to cap, by his own admission, the most impressive stretch of his career.
In his last 12 rounds, Spieth is 53 under with two rounds of 63 and one of 64. It’s a recent stretch that started last month in Japan.
Making an appearance on the Japan Tour, Spieth tied for third at the Dunlop Phoenix, a shot back of winner Hideki Matsuyama, who prevailed in a playoff. A week later, he picked up his second professional victory, winning the Emirates Australian Open by six shots after a final-round 63 in what caddie Michael Greller called “ridiculous conditions.”
So it came to no shock when Greller quipped that Spieth was “trying to find somewhere to play” next week.
“Yeah, I mean, obviously we would like to keep it rolling, but it’s going to be really nice to have some time at home,” Spieth said. “I’ve been on a lot of airplanes in the last five weeks and a lot of long flights. It’ll be nice to take it easy.”
Spieth will now head home to Dallas, where he is moving into a new house next week. The $1 million first-place check will be a nice housewarming gift.
He’ll also have to find a place for another trophy as Sunday’s victory marks win No. 3 for Spieth, who turned pro in 2012 halfway through his sophomore year at Texas, which he led to a national title as a freshman.
Of course, it was with the Longhorns that Spieth got his first taste of victory at Isleworth. His victory at the 2011 Isleworth Collegiate Invitational came in similar fashion, too, as a teenaged Spieth shot 11 under in 54 holes to top teammate Dylan Frittelli by eight shots.
“I remember arriving here (in 2011) and there was so much free stuff,” Spieth said. “It was the coolest tournament. … I remember looking at the scoreboard as I walked down No. 10 and seeing (my lead) was six or seven shots … and I did the same thing today. It was déjà vu looking over at the scoreboard.”
One of the top amateurs in the country back then, Spieth has since proved himself among the best professionals in the world on countless occasions. He picked up his first pro victory in 2012, at the John Deere Classic, earning himself a PGA Tour card and a spot in the Tour Championship. Last season, he again made it to East Lake while also notching a runner-up finish at The Masters, a performance that vaulted him to seventh in the Official World Golf Ranking.
His victory Sunday moved him to ninth in the world rankings, where he’ll finish the season ranked in the top 10 for the first time in his career.
“It was a really fun walk on that back nine,” Spieth said. “Whether my emotions showed it or not, I’m not sure, but inside we were really very, very pleased with the year and how it came to a close. This caps off the best golfing year that I’ve ever had.
“Each year has been a little bit better than the last. Hope to continue to do so in 2015.”
This article came from golfweek.com. Click here to read it on their site.