Punch Shot: Biggest similarity between Tiger's and Spieth's games?

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 12, 2016, 7:20 pm

Jordan Spieth has recently drawn comparisons to Tiger Woods, which even Tiger's old swing coach, Butch Harmon, agrees are fair to make. What part of Spieth's game is most similar to Tiger's when he was at his best? Our writers weigh in:


It’s hard to quantify, but Jordan Spieth shares with Tiger Woods a rare ability to rise to the occasion.

It’s been that way for as long as I’ve covered Spieth. 

In 2011, he had one final chance to join Woods as the only players to win multiple U.S. Junior titles. He won the championship match, 6 and 5. The following spring, during the NCAA finals at Riviera, the Texas freshman played Alabama’s Justin Thomas in a battle of Player of the Year contenders. All square on the 15th hole, Spieth holed a long approach shot (shocker) and won the match, helping lift the Longhorns to the team championship.

That was only the start. 

To win his first PGA Tour title, at the 2013 John Deere Classic, he holed a bunker shot on the last hole to force a playoff. To win his first major, at the 2015 Masters, he got up-and-down from an impossible spot long and right of the 18th green to preserve his four-shot cushion heading into the final day. To become the youngest player since Gene Sarazen in 1922 to win back-to-back majors, Spieth sank a slippery putt on 16 and smoked a 3-wood to 15 feet on the 72nd hole at Chambers Bay. To win the Tour Championship and become golf’s first $22 million man, Spieth curled in a 45-footer on the 11th hole for the final dagger.

Woods was the master at this, seemingly willing every important putt into the cup for a dozen years. In his short career, Spieth has demonstrated the same uncanny ability to summon the goods at the best possible time, when the competition is closing in, when the pressure is at its most intense. 


Jordan Spieth won for the sixth time in 10 months on Sunday at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, lapping the field in Maui by eight strokes and sparking comparisons to Tiger Woods at the same point in his career.

Although Spieth doesn’t overpower golf courses like Woods did at this point in their careers, his putting, particularly in pressure situations, is the most obvious similarity.

Butch Harmon, who was Woods’ swing coach from 1996 to August 2002, said he sees much of the same composure in Spieth that was such a big part of Tiger’s persona during those early years.

“I never thought I’d see anyone who can make as many pressure putts as Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods did,” Harmon said. “But Jordan Spieth is definitely right there. Jordan makes more long putts then anyone we’ve seen in a long time with the exception of Arnold Palmer.”

Spieth is second on the PGA Tour in strokes gained-putting, but specifically distinguishes himself from the field, like Woods, on mid-range putts at key moments.

For the week at the Tournament of Champions he made 368 feet of putts, including bombs of 46 feet (No. 2 on Saturday), 33 feet (the second on Thursday) and 35 feet (No. 2 on Sunday).


We do Jordan Spieth no favors comparing him with Tiger Woods, but it’s unavoidable.

Spieth knows that, and he gives the best possible answer when asked, saying it’s premature to compare but he’s flattered because it’s his goal to move into the company of greatness.

Tiger knows the impossible standard he set, because he is compared with himself all the time now. He was so good, there’s a sense of doom trying to measure up, even for him now. But it won’t stop us. It’s human nature to want to compare excellence, whether it’s the best performance we’ve seen in a decade or the best steak we’ve ever eaten. It’s the way we’re wired.

How does Spieth most compare to Woods? It’s the putting. We all see that. Spieth has a gift on the greens. We talk about how Woods could dominate with power in his youth, but he demoralized players with his putter, with all the great putts he drained. Spieth can do that. Of course, Spieth will have to keep doing that before it’s really fair to compare him with Woods and Jack Nicklaus as the greatest clutch putters of all time. In the meantime, we’ll be unable to resist forcing the comparisons. 


The most striking similarity between Spieth and Woods is an innate understanding of timing. It’s knowing just when to go in for the kill, just when his closest pursuer might be reeling and can be knocked flat with a single swipe. It’s executing a risky approach shot, or converting an improbable up-and-down, or burying an 8-footer for par like it was a tap-in.

Spieth has had a few wobbles that we didn’t see from an early Woods – specifically, the 17th holes at both of the Opens last year. But overall his ability to seize the moment, especially when leading, is reminiscent of Woods. We see it when he is battling down the stretch or in a playoff, and it is equally evident at events like Kapalua, where he slowly grew his lead from three shots to five, and ultimately eight.

It’s shots like his approach to the 18th hole on Saturday, a low, running 3-iron that nearly rolled in for an albatross before setting up a closing eagle. It was Spieth telling the rest of the field, quite simply, that this was his tournament and no one else was permitted within arm’s length of the trophy.

We’ve seen similar shots recently from guys like Rory McIlroy and Jason Day, but the frequency with which Spieth hits the perfect shot at the perfect time draws comparisons to the player who did it better than anyone in recent memory.


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Koepka: Second-place finishes becoming 'annoying'

By Al TaysMay 28, 2018, 12:02 am

Brooks Koepka didn't go down without a fight.

Trailing Justin Rose by four shots going into the final round of the Fort Worth Invitational, Koepka shot his second 7-under 63 of the week - and made up precisely one shot. He finished solo second at 17 under par, three shots behind Rose.

He could only marvel at the Englishman's performance in closing with a 6-under 64.

"It was pretty impressive," he said. "Justin played well. Hat's off to him. Any time you can come into a lead with four shots and play the way he did today, that's impressive."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Although Koepka was pleased with his own play - especially his putting - he said it felt "annoying" to come in second. Again.

"I feel like we've had so many second-place finishes," he said. "Always seem to run into a buzz saw, whatever it is."

Since May of 2016, Koepka has five solo second-place finishes and one T-2. But he also has a U.S. Open title, won last year at Erin Hills. He'll attempt to defend that title June 14-17 at Shinnecock Hills. "It's nice to finally be playing well and get going into the season," he said. "Kind of peaking right where I need to be."

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Minjee Lee birdies 18 to win on her birthday

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:59 pm

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Minjee Lee's task was simple: A birdie on No. 18 would win her the tournament. It was a manageable par 5, the easiest hole on the course in the final round.

After a good drive, her second shot came closer to trouble than much of the gallery probably realized.

''I almost clipped the tree,'' Lee said. ''I overcut it a little bit, but it finished out in a good position.''

Lee's shot came to rest just to the right of the green, and from there it was a simple chip and putt for the birdie that gave her a one-stroke win over In-Kyung Kim at the LPGA Volvik Championship on Sunday. Lee, who turned 22 on Sunday, won for the first time since 2016. It was the Australian's fourth career victory.

Lee three-putted for a bogey on No. 17, dropping into a tie with Kim, who finished her round about the same time. So Lee needed a birdie to win on 18. The 18th hole was 470 yards Sunday. There were 44 birdies there in the final round.

Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship

''The tee was up,'' she said. ''I was pretty confident that I could get there in two if I had a good drive.''

Lee made her winning putt from about 3 feet. She finished at 4-under 68 and 16 under for the tournament. Kim (67) shot a 32 on the back nine and birdied No. 18, but it wasn't enough to force a playoff at Travis Pointe Country Club.

''I kind of knew that 16 was the number and I mean, I give my best,'' Kim said. ''I make some good shots and birdies.''

Moriya Jutanugarn (65) finished third at 14 under.

Lee took a two-stroke lead into the final round, and that was her margin over playing partner Stacy Lewis before Lewis (71) bogeyed No. 7 and 8. Kim emerged as the biggest threat to Lee when she birdied four of the first five holes on the back nine. Lewis is playing four months' pregnant with her first child.

Kim and Lee were briefly tied at 15 under, but then Lee made a tap-in birdie on the par-5 14th, while Kim bogeyed 15. Lee saved par on 15 despite a wayward drive into a bunker.

''I wasn't sure where I was score-wise then. That par 5 is reachable in two, so I think a lot of people would have made birdie there,'' Lee said. ''The next tee shot I just pulled into the bunker. ... I think that was really important for me to hole that par putt just to keep the momentum going.''

Lee had gone 38 consecutive holes without a bogey before making one on the par-4 17th. That, combined with Kim's birdie on 18, left the two golfers tied, but Lee still had the 18th to come.

Su Oh (68) and Lindy Duncan (69) finished at 13 under, and Megan Khang (67) was another stroke back. Lewis finished at 11 under along with Ariya Jutanugarn (69) and Danielle Kang (70).

Lewis birdied three of the first six holes, but Lee did as well.

''It's hard to get close when somebody does that,'' Lewis said. ''She played great all day and played solid. When she needed to make a par putt, she did, and didn't make any mistakes.''

Lee lost this event by one stroke last year. Shanshan Feng, the 2017 winner , finished tied for 21st this time.

The LPGA has had a different winner in each of its 13 tournaments this year. The U.S. Women's Open starts Thursday at Shoal Creek.

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Spieth: Improvement is 'right around the corner'

By Al TaysMay 27, 2018, 10:50 pm

Not that Dallas native Jordan Spieth didn't enjoy the two-week home game that is the AT&T Byron Nelson and the Fort Worth Invitational - he certainly did. But he's eager to get out of town, too.

"It was a great showing these last couple weeks by the fans," Spieth said after closing with a 2-under 68, a 5-under total and a T-32 finish. "Obviously extremely appreciative here in DFW. Wish I could do more. These couple weeks can be a bit taxing, and it's awesome to kind of have that support to carry you through.

"So, you know, I had a great time these couple weeks on and off the golf course as I always do, but I'm also really excited to kind of get out of town and kind of be able to just go back to the room and have nothing to do at night except for get ready to play the next day."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Spieth will have that experience this coming week in Dublin, Ohio, site of the Memorial. He's hopeful of improving on his T-21, T-32 finishes the past two weeks, and he thinks the main thing holding him back - his putting - is ready for a turnaround.

"I think good things are about to come," he said. "I feel a good run coming for the second half of the season. Today was - each day I've felt better and better with the wedges and the putter and the short game; today was no different. My only bogey being just kind of trying to do too much on a par-5; 3-wood into the hazard.

"So, you know, I'm getting into where I'm not making bogeys, and then soon - the not making bogeys is great, and soon I'll get back to the five, six birdies around and shoot some low rounds.

"So I know it's right around the corner."

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Broadhurst fires 63 to easily win Senior PGA

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:45 pm

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. – Paul Broadhurst wishes he had played this well in his 23 years on the European Tour.

''I know a lot more about my swing now and I guess you get that with age and experience,'' the 52-year-old Englishman said after shooting an 8-under 63 on Sunday to win the Senior PGA Championship by four strokes and match the best 72-hole score in tournament history.

Broadhurst finished at 19-under 265 at Harbor Shores for his second senior major victory. The 63 was the best fourth-round score by a winner. Rocco Mediate also shot 19 under at Harbor Shores in 2016.

Also the 2016 British Senior Open winner, Broadhurst led the field with 26 birdies and passed third-round co-leaders Tim Petrovic and Mark McCarron with a 4-under 31 on the back nine.

Petrovic was second after a 69. McCarron had a 70 to tie for third at 14 under with Jerry Kelly (65).

Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship

Broadhurst earned a career-high $585,000 for his fourth PGA Tour Champions victory and moved to the top of the money list. He won six times on the European Tour, was a 1991 Ryder Cup player for Europe and has three European Senior Tour victories.

''It was really a special week,'' he said. ''It got a little bit tense out there. I knew I was playing well but I didn't seem to making any progress against Tim Petrovic. He was side-by-side on the back nine it seemed.''

He learned his lead was three strokes standing on the 18th tee when his caddie asked a television announcer.

''So we put my driver away and reached for the rescue club,'' he said. ''If I made a 5 there that would be fine.''

Broadhurst started the round two strokes behind Petrovic and McCarron, birdied the first hole and was tied with Petrovic for the lead by the turn. He took his first lead with a birdie on the 12th hole, led by two after 16 and birdied the final two holes, including a dramatic 40-foot putt for birdie at the 18th hole.

''I guess it would have been a bit of anti-climax if I would have three-putted the last green, but that would have given Tim a chance of holing his second shot,'' he said. ''I actually spoke to my caddie about that going down the last - we don't want to three-putt and five him the opportunity because stranger things have happened in golf. To see it go in the middle of the hole was just a special feeling.''

Petrovic said missed birdie putts on Nos. 7 and 8 were costly, but it might not have mattered with the way Broadhurst was playing.

''In hindsight it was all for naught,'' he said. ''He was so far ahead of us. Hat's off the guy. It was a great week - we just got beat. When he made the putt on 18 ahead of us I almost started clapping in the fairway and waving a white towel. It was well-deserved. That was great playing. He won the championship for sure.''

Broadhurst shot 72 in the first round, started rolling in putts with a 66 in the second round and was 15 under on the weekend. In addition to the leading 26 birdies, he topped the putts per greens in regulations numbers for the tournament as well with a 1.574 average.

''I wasn't aware I made that many birdies,'' he said. ''That's pretty impressive around this course.''

He said his game has long been unpredictable.

''I'm not blessed with a consistent swing like Bernhard Langer, but when it's on, it works,'' he said. ''If I'm putting well, then anything can happen, really.''