Jordan Spieth had an incredible 2015 season. He won two majors (and finished in the top-5 of the others), won more than $US23 million on the PGA Tour, and took home Player of the Year honours.
And he is still just 22 years old.
But that hasn’t stopped some from pointing out that Spieth’s game still has one major flaw and speculating that it will eventually come back to haunt him.
In a recent story for Golf Digest, Jaime Diaz wrote a story titled “The very qualities that make Jordan Spieth great will be the toughest to sustain.” In the story, Diaz calls Spieth’s success a case of “sleight of hand,” noting that he doesn’t follow golf’s “tried-and-true formula for being a dominant player.” That is, Spieth does not hit the ball very far.
Whereas [Tiger] Woods, for example, borrowed from golf’s tried-and-true formula for being a dominant player — kill the par 5s, effectively shrinking par 72s to par 68s — Spieth doesn’t have the power to rely on those kinds of easy birdies. Although he was first on the PGA Tour in percentage of birdie or better on par 4s, and second in that category on par 3s, he was 39th on par 5s.
Spieth’s way of going consistently low suggests sleight of hand. He’s not long (ranked 78th in driving distance with an average of 291.8 yards), nor particularly straight (80th in hitting fairways), and doesn’t hit a ton greens (49th). But Spieth still managed to finish fourth in strokes gained tee to green, which was even better than his rank (8th) in strokes gained putting.
Spieth addressed this prior to the PGA Championship, when he spoke about wishing he hit the ball as far as Rory McIlroy, who averages 304.0 yards per drive, 12.2 yards farther than Spieth (291.8).
“I wish I could hit as far as he does,” Spieth said at the time. “It’s something I’ve been working on and have gotten longer over the last few years. I definitely envy his power.”
Of course, Spieth is probably never going to be a big bomber like the other top golfers, such as McIlroy, Dustin Johnson (317.7 yards per drive), Bubba Watson (315.2), and Jason Day (313.7). But Spieth doesn’t think that is a negative. In fact, when asked on “The Dan Patrick Show” about the sustainability of his game, Spieth suggested his swing will actually be a benefit over the long haul.
Of course, this has been the biggest flaw of Tiger Woods’ career, that he hasn’t been able to stay healthy, and many have pointed to his big swing which has always put an incredible amount of torque on his back and his legs. Woods, who was once on pace to shatter Jack Nicklaus’ record for most major championships won, has battled a series of injuries over the last few years to the point that it seems like he will never be 100% healthy again.
Spieth may never hit it as far as Woods or the others, but he feels that his swing will help him avoid a similar career downfall.
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