Punch Shot: Will Spieth win a major this year?

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 12, 2016, 3:00 pm

Jordan Spieth was on the verge of his second consecutive Masters title and his third major in the last five played. But that all sunk in Rae's Creek. Following an epic collapse, we ask our writers: Will Spieth dust off this major disappointment and win a major this year?


Sunday’s meltdown aside, Spieth’s record in the major championships strongly suggests that whatever transpired on Augusta National’s 12th will be an afterthought when the Grand Slam season draws to a close.

Consider that in 13 majors starts the 22-year-old has finished in the top 5 nearly half the time (six), including victories at the 2015 Masters and Open Championship. By comparison, Tiger Woods had just one victory (1997 Masters) and two top-5 finishes in his first 13 majors.

This year’s major venues also should give Spieth solace following his collapse on Sunday at Augusta National.

The next major stop is the U.S. Open at Oakmont, which is arguably a more demanding putting contest than Augusta National and Spieth is still the game’s top putter, followed by Royal Troon for the Open Championship and Baltusrol for the PGA Championship.

Spieth’s ball striking wasn’t up to the test last week, but in the brief snapshot of his career he’s proven adept at adjusting to an ever-changing game.

Most important, however, Spieth will be keen to change the conversation after his Masters meltdown, and nothing will do that quicker than a major victory.


Yes, Spieth will win a major this year.

OK, we all know it’s a fool’s business predicting the winners of major championships. Johnny Miller, Greg Norman and Ben Crenshaw are all World Golf Hall of Famers, and they only won two each over their entire careers. Fred Couples, Tom Kite and Bob Charles are also Hall of Famers and they each claimed a single major. That’s how tough it is to win majors.

Spieth’s odds of winning one this year, however, seem better than anyone else’s given what he is learning under major championship heat. He has given himself excellent chances to win the last five. That’s extraordinary. It’s his ability to keep giving himself chances that makes me believe he’ll snag another one this year. In fact, it’s the fight he showed giving himself a chance last weekend at the Masters without his best stuff that makes me believe he’ll overcome his failure there and keep this hot run going in majors.

Even after Spieth’s quadruple bogey at the 12th, there was no quit in him. Given the emotions that had to be boiling inside, that was something. He fought back from that debacle with a couple birdies. A year ago, he showed us he isn’t a one-trick pony at Augusta National. He showed us he can fit his game to different tests with his victory at Chambers Bay and his close calls at St. Andrews and Whistling Straits.


Spieth will not win a major this year, but it won’t be because there’s any sort of lingering shrapnel from his devastating Masters meltdown. It’ll be because, well, it’s just plain difficult to win majors. Tiger Woods made it look easy, he made us believe that the best of any era going forward should win majors at an irregular clip. That’s simply not how it works.

Will Spieth contend in a major this year? Likely. The Open Championship at Troon would be my best guess. But winning two last year was an enormous feat. It doesn’t mean he’s going to win one a year for each of the next 10 years.

Spieth will go years without winning majors. In fact, he’ll go many years without winning a major and he’ll do it more often than he will go years with winning one. This year will be one of those where he won’t. And it’ll have nothing to do with the demons planted from Augusta National.


The odds are always against any one player winning a major in a given year, even the best in the world. Tiger in his prime did not win a major in 2003 or 2004. Jack Nicklaus, from 1968 to 1979, had six years where he failed to win a major. There are only three left, and I think you would have to say that odds are against Spieth winning any of the three, especially because his favorite, the Masters, is already over.

That said, I don’t think there will be a significant hangover from his Masters collapse. He’s enough of a golf fan to know that this sort of thing happens to everybody, perhaps not as dramatically but Palmer, Player, Watson, Nicklaus and even Woods all faltered Sunday at a major championship.

I think Spieth should be in contention many times, which is how you pile up the majors. But if I had to bet will he or won’t he this year, I’d bet no.

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Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.

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Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x