Spieth’s eight-shot success at the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii means he has equalled the Woods record of seven PGA Tour wins before the age of 23. The world No1 carded 28 birdies, two eagles and just two bogeys in reaching 30 under par.
Spieth, though, refuted suggestions that his achievements place him on an equivalent level to the 14-times major winner. “I just think it’s premature but I’ll say that probably my entire career,” Spieth said. “There’s just such an age gap. I understand comparisons are going to be there. I hope they continue to be there, that means I’m still being in the same ballpark as he is. But at the same time I grew up watching Tiger. I know what he did and I just find it hard to believe that it can be matched.
“I know we’re in a position now where we’re actually maybe ahead of the curve age-wise. But, boy, it would be hard to believe I could be compared to him the entire course of a career. I hope that’s the case, I’m certainly going to strive for it. But what he has done for the game of golf is something special and I just don’t feel I deserve to necessarily be compared to him right now. Maybe I do, I don’t know. Personally I don’t think so.”
Some have claimed Spieth cannot match his own achievements of 2015, when he won two major championships, the FedEx Cup and surged to the summit of the world rankings. Spieth himself is aware of that cynicism.
“You do the talking with your clubs,” he said. “Michael [Greller, Spieth’s caddie] said on the 18th fairway, ‘Man, what a way to make a statement.’ I thought that was cool.
“I mean, it’s not what I’m going for, it’s not why I do what I do. I don’t do it to talk back to any the players or people that believe that it’s not possible, that I got a lucky year or something. Everyone has their opinions, it’s their right. But I still think it’s going to be very difficult to have a year like last year.
“The calendar changed, we’re still there. There is no reason that my game should change with the calendar. It certainly didn’t. If anything, I felt we have even improved in this off season.
“The expectations after the Masters last year, definitely more so after the US Open; obviously there were the questions about the grand slam. And it will still be there. It’s the target on my back. It’s just what comes with what I love to do.
“I guess accepting that is the first step. Just accepting that everything’s in the spotlight, everything’s going to be judged.
“Some people aren’t going to like your swing, the way you grip the club, it’s just everything’s under a microscope, at least in the golf world, and now extending outwards.”
The European Tour may have cause for delight at Spieth’s Hawaii success. Anticipation for his upcoming appearance at the HSBC Championship in Abu Dhabi has only increased. Rory McIlroy, pertinently, will also be in that desert field.
“We set goals as a team that we want to accomplish each year win-wise,” said Spieth.
“It’s nice to get the first one in the calendar year. I think if we continue on just focusing on our own goals then we can maybe stay on the path.
“But again, the focus is always on the major championships. What Tiger and Jack Nicklaus have done, it’s very difficult to fathom that being possible. But I’ve got enough chances.”
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