Where does Spieth's season rank?

By Matt AdamsAugust 27, 2015, 10:15 pm

Sometimes it’s difficult to recognize greatness. Oh, we know when someone has done something extraodinary, but it is difficult at times to fully comprehend when an athlete has accomplished something that borders on the best ever. Case in point, Tiger Woods’ “Tiger Slam” in 2000-2001. Much of the focus was on the fact that Woods did not produce a true Grand Slam – winning all four majors in a calendar year. But his achievement was unprecedented - no one had previously held all four professional major trophies at the same time. My sense is that 50 years from now fans will look back on this achievement in awe. 

Similarly, Jordan Spieth’s 2015 campaign, in which he won two majors and ascended to the No. 1 world ranking, may ultimately be viewed with similar accolades ... or will it? 

Spieth is the 15th man to win two or more majors in a season in the Masters era, which encompasses 1934 to the present. If you subtract 1940-45, when one or more of the majors was not held because of World War II, you come up with 76 years of majors as we know them. We’ll include 1941 – bumping the number of years to 77 - even though the Open Championship wasn’t played, because Craig Wood still managed to win two majors – the Masters and U.S. Open. Those 15 players have produced 26 multiple-major seasons, which over 77 years is a rate of 34 percent, so a multiple-major season isn’t as rare as might be expected.

Only two men have won three professional majors in a season – Ben Hogan in 1953, when he took the Masters and U.S. and British Opens, and Woods in 2000, when he won the U.S. and British Opens and the PGA.

But what about two-major seasons? Certainly there have been some great ones: Nicklaus in 1972, when his Grand Slam dream died agonizingly in the Open Championship at Muirfield when his closing 66 was blunted by Lee Trevino’s chip-in for par at the 71st hole and a one-shot victory margin. Nicklaus again in 1975, when he came up one shot short of the Tom Watson-Jack Newton playoff that resulted in the first of Watson’s five Open Championship wins. Palmer in 1962, when he rebounded from a heartbreaking defeat by Nicklaus in a “hometown” U.S. Open at Oakmont to win the Open Championship for his second major of the year.

Palmer’s 1960 season deserves special mention. After winning his second Masters, he cemented his legend with his spectacular final-round comeback from seven shots back to start the day in the U.S. Open at Cherry Hills. His closing 65 vaulted him over Nicklaus (while still amateur, he’d finish with a final round of 71, two shots back, alone in second place) and Hogan (final round of 73, T-9, four shots adrift), among others. With the charge of Palmer, the introduction of Nicklaus and the swan song of Hogan, this was one of golf’s most historic rounds. The modern application of the term Grand Slam was born when newspaperman and Palmer crony Bob Drum used it to define Palmer’s intent to add victories at the Open Championship at St. Andrews (he would finish second by a stroke to Kel Nagle) and the PGA Championship (he would finish T-7, five shots behind Jay Hebert).

What about Spieth? If we look at how he did in the other two majors, his performance is equaled only by Woods in 2005. That year Woods was runner-up to Michael Campbell by two shots in the U.S. Open at Pinehurst and T-4 in the PGA, two shots behind winner Phil Mickelson. Spieth finished T-4 in this year’s Open Championship at St. Andrews, one stroke out of the three-man playoff won by Zach Johnson, and second by three shots to Jason Day in the PGA at Whistling Straits. Obviously which of these seasons is better, at least judged by the majors, is open to debate.

Adding in performance in non-majors, Woods won an additional four times (two of which were World Golf Championship events), while Spieth has won two additional tournaments and still has the FedEx Cup Playoffs before him. And wouldn’t it be another interesting conversation to compare the weight of two wins in the playoffs to two WGC wins?

While it’s debatable exactly where Spieth’s 2015 campaign fits into the pages of history, what cannot be denied is how much fun it was to have witnessed it and to compare it to the all-time greats. 


Players who won two or more majors in a season in the Masters era (1934-present)

2000-2015

Year Player Masters U.S. Open British Open PGA
2015 Jordan Spieth 1 1 T-4 2
2014 Rory McIlroy T-8 T-23 1 1
2008 Padraig Harrington T-5 T-36 1 1
2006 Tiger Woods T-3 MC 1 1
2005 Tiger Woods 1 2 1 T-4
2002 Tiger Woods 1 1 T-28 2
2000 Tiger Woods 5 1 1 1

1990-1999

Year Player Masters U.S. Open British Open PGA
1998 Mark O'Meara       1 T-32 1 T-4
1994 Nick Price T-35 MC 1 1
1990 Nick Faldo 1 T-3 1 T-19

1980-1989

Year Player Masters U.S. Open British Open PGA
1982 Tom Watson        T-5 1 1 T-9
1980 Jack Nicklaus T-33 1 T-4 1

1970-1979

Year Player Masters U.S. Open British Open PGA
1977 Tom Watson        1 T-7 1 T-6
1975 Jack Nicklaus 1 T-7 T-3 1
1974 Gary Player 1 T-8 1 7
1972 Jack Nicklaus 1 1 2 T-13
1971 Lee Trevino DNP 1 1 T-13

1960-1969

Year Player Masters U.S. Open British Open PGA
1966 Jack Nicklaus       1 3 1 T-22
1963 Jack Nicklaus 1 MC 3 1
1962 Arnold Palmer 1 2 1 T-17
1960 Arnold Palmer 1 1 2 T-7

1950-1959

Year Player Masters U.S. Open British Open PGA
1953 Ben Hogan         1 1 1 DNP
1951 Ben Hogan 1 1 DNP DNP

1940-1949

Year Player Masters U.S. Open British Open PGA
1949 Sam Snead       1 T-2 DNP 1
1948 Ben Hogan T-6 1 DNP 1
1941 Craig Wood 1 1 NT R-32

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.

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Landry stays hot, leads desert shootout at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 12:35 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Andrew Landry topped the crowded CareerBuilder Challenge leaderboard after another low-scoring day in the sunny Coachella Valley.

Landry shot a 7-under 65 on Thursday on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course to reach 16 under. He opened with a 63 on Thursday at La Quinta Country Club.

''Wind was down again,'' Landry said. ''It's like a dome out here.''

Jon Rahm, the first-round leader after a 62 at La Quinta, was a stroke back. He had two early bogeys in a 67 on the Nicklaus layout.

''It's tough to come back because I feel like I expected myself to go to the range and keep just flushing everything like I did yesterday,'' Rahm said. ''Everything was just a little bit off.''

Jason Kokrak was 14 under after a 67 at Nicklaus. Two-time major champion Zach Johnson was 13 under along with Michael Kim and Martin Piller. Johnson had a 64 at Nicklaus.


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


Landry, Rahm, Kokrak and Johnson will finish the rotation Saturday at PGA West's Stadium Course, also the site of the final round.

''You need to hit it a lot more accurate off the tee because being in the fairway is a lot more important,'' Rahm said about the Pete Dye-designed Stadium Course, a layout the former Arizona State player likened to the Dye-designed Karsten course on the school's campus. ''With the small greens, you have water in play. You need to be more precise. Clearly the hardest golf course.''

Landry pointed to the Saturday forecast.

''I think the wind's supposed to be up like 10 to 20 mph or something, so I know that golf course can get a little mean,'' Landry said. ''Especially, those last three or four holes.''

The 30-year-old former Arkansas player had five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine. After winning his second Web.com Tour title last year, he had two top-10 finishes in October and November at the start the PGA Tour season.

''We're in a good spot right now,'' Landry said. ''I played two good rounds of golf, bogey-free both times, and it's just nice to be able to hit a lot of good quality shots and get rewarded when you're making good putts.''

Rahm had four birdies and the two bogeys on his first six holes. He short-sided himself in the left bunker on the par-3 12th for his first bogey of the week and three-putted the par-4 14th – pulling a 3-footer and loudly asking ''What?'' – to drop another stroke.

''A couple of those bad swings cost me,'' Rahm said.

The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3 in the world, Rahm made his first par of the day on the par-4 16th and followed with five more before birdieing the par-5 fourth. The 23-year-old Spaniard also birdied the par-5 seventh and par-3 eighth.

''I had close birdie putts over the last four holes and made two of them, so I think that kind of clicked,'' said Rahm, set to defend his title next week at Torrey Pines.

He has played the par 5s in 9 under with an eagle and seven birdies.

Johnson has taken a relaxed approach to the week, cutting his practice to two nine-hole rounds on the Stadium Course.

''I'm not saying that's why I'm playing well, but I took it really chill and the golf courses haven't changed,'' Johnson said. ''La Quinta's still really pure, right out in front of you, as is the Nicklaus.''

Playing partner Phil Mickelson followed his opening 70 at La Quinta with a 68 at Nicklaus to get to 6 under. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer is playing his first tournament of since late October.

''The scores obviously aren't what I want, but it's pretty close and I feel good about my game,'' Mickelson said. ''I feel like this is a great place to start the year and build a foundation for my game. It's easy to identify the strengths and weaknesses. My iron play has been poor relative to the standards that I have. My driving has been above average.''

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on a sponsor exemption, had a 70 at Nicklaus to match Mickelson at 6 under. The Southern California recruit is playing his first PGA Tour event. He tied for 65th in the Australian Open in November in his first start in a professional tournament.