Jordan Spieth came into the 2017 Pebble Beach Pro-Am having finished inside the top 10 in every official tournament he's played since last September's TOUR Championship. He won exactly zero of those events.
That all changed Sunday, as Spieth carded a two-under 70 in his fourth round to earn a four-stroke victory over Kelly Kraft at Pebble Beach. It's Spieth's ninth win on the PGA Tour, his first since the 2016 Dean & DeLuca Invitational last May.
Peter Bukowski offered an eye-opening comparison to Tiger Woods:
Peter Bukowski @Peter_Bukowski
This is Spieth's 100th start and would be his 9th Tour win. Tiger won his 100th start too. It was his 28th win.2/12/2017, 9:52:41 PM
Jason Sobel of ESPN provided a more uplifting statistic, though:
Jason Sobel @JasonSobelESPN
Jordan Spieth wins at Pebble Beach. Becomes the youngest player with nine career PGA Tour victories since some guy named Jack Nicklaus.2/12/2017, 11:25:03 PM
Entering the day with a six-stroke lead after posting back-to-back 65s, Spieth's final 18 holes were mostly about holding things together. He carded two birdies without a bogey, going a stretch of 14 consecutive pars after birdieing No. 2. His other birdie, a 29-footer on No. 17, proved a perfect capper to the weekend:
PGA TOUR @PGATOUR
Bang. Absolutely perfect. @JordanSpieth now leads by 4 with 1 to play. #QuickHits https://t.co/yhY5C1IPO82/12/2017, 10:50:23 PM
Still mostly solid off the tee and with his irons—he hit 88.9 percent of his greens in regulation—Spieth struggled all afternoon to find the speed with his putter. He finished the round with 34 putts and left a number of close birdie opportunities on the table.
Holes No. 1, No. 3, No. 14 and No. 15 saw him miss birdie attempts by less than a foot. His semi-conservative approach with irons did create some lengthy opportunities he understandably missed, but Spieth had been hitting those for most of the week. The PGA Tour's "strokes gained" metric showed Spieth lost 0.534 strokes with his putter alone Sunday.
|Jordan Spieth Scorecard|
The mistakes left the door slightly ajar for Kraft, who soared up the leaderboard after shooting a five-under 67. The 28-year-old, who entered with a couple of high-20s finishes and cut this season, hit five birdies on the front nine—all coming in a six-hole stretch from No. 3 to No. 8. He added another birdie on No. 11 that made what seemed like a preordained result a little interesting.
Mark Murphy of Golf Channel was cheering on the underdog:
Mark Murphy @MarkMurphyGolf
Come on @kkraft11 cheering for you buddy @PGATOUR2/12/2017, 7:04:01 PM
Fortunately for Spieth, the lead he built through the first 54 holes proved insurmountable. He calmly picked up par after par, saving bad tee shots into the rough at a few points on the back nine, while Kraft's hot streak cooled down. Kraft did not record another birdie after No. 11 and watched on as Spieth did just enough to keep himself ahead.
Plus, occasionally, Spieth would do things like this and remind the world why he's won two majors at 23:
PGA TOUR @PGATOUR
Jordan Spieth made this look much easier than it was. These Guys Are Good. #QuickHits https://t.co/ZWkG8Gqwfj2/12/2017, 8:14:33 PM
The win will help build Spieth's resume among the world's best, which had quietly taken a hit over the last year. Spieth entered this week ranked sixth in the world, behind the likes of Hideki Matsuyama and Henrik Stenson—great players who are often left out of the conversation along with Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy.
Spieth's year had been crescendoing to this point. He had finished ninth or better in every tournament during the current PGA season, including two top-three finishes. All that was left on the table was him actually getting over the hump and getting back to holding a trophy.
Johnson finished the event in third at 14-under, while Day was seven strokes behind in a tie for fifth place. Matsuyama, Stenson and McIlroy did not participate.
With the Masters less than two months away, nearly all the game's elite are playing at a high level. Pebble Beach just proved that, when he's at the top of his game, Spieth has the talent to lap everyone in the field.
Spieth spoke about his conservative style, per Steve DiMeglio of USA Today: "Today I hit 17 greens, sort of a dream round when you’re leading by a bunch. It was sort of boring golf. ... That was the game plan. We got to every tee box and Michael [Greller, his caddie] said, 'Keep playing boring golf.' I don’t like playing boring golf but it worked out."
Jeff Babineau of Golfweek provided comments from Spieth's pro-am playing partner, Jake Owen: "He's a rock star...and I know rock stars."