Whoever says golf is dead or on the decline needs to open their eyes. Jordan Spieth just put on a clinic at Augusta, and won the 79th Masters Tournament in record setting fashion. At just 21-years-old, Spieth looks primed to join 25-year-old Rory McIlroy as the future of golf. It’s no coincidence that McIlroy is ranked No 1. in the world and Spieth is ranked No. 2.
13 reasons why golf is in good hands with Jordan and Rory:
1. Spieth destroyed records at Augusta.
Spieth shattered so many records this weekend at Augusta that it’s hard to keep track. Here’s a tally of them all:
• At 18-under 270, Spieth tied Tiger Woods’ record of 18-under 270 from back in 1997.
• Spieth becomes the first wire-to-wire Masters winner since Raymond Floyd in 1976.
• Set the 54-hole scoring record (200).
• Set the 36-hole scoring record (130).
• Is the second-youngest Masters winner ever (Tiger Woods in 1997).
• The youngest 18-hole leader in Masters history.
• Most birdies ever (28)
2. McIlroy becoming world’s most recognized athlete.
Just two years ago, Sports Pro Media published their 50 Most Marketable Athletes. Rory was listed number three. That was before he won the 2014 Open Championship and 2014 PGA Championship back-to-back.
There’s no question that McIlroy’s influence as a global ambassador for the game is increasing with every tournament he wins. Golf Digest listed Rory as No. 3 this year in their annual 50 Money List, with earnings close to $50 million. EA Sports recently tabbed him as the face of their PGA Tour golfing game empire. Plus he’s already the face of Nike Golf, alongside Tiger Woods.
3. Spieth is really good at golf.
Spieth isn’t some flash in the pan who came out of nowhere to win the Masters. He was ranked No. 4 in the world before his big win. He had two prior wins on the PGA Tour, and won the Australian Open last November. Spieth is the third-youngest player in PGA Tour history to win multiple events, behind Tiger and Sergio García, and the fourth player to win multiple events before turning 22.
4. McIlroy is even better at golf.
Rory is the current World No. 1 and a four-time major champion. He is the first European to win three different majors, and with Jack Nicklaus and Tiger is one of three to win three majors by the age of 25. In 2011 at the age of 22, he became the youngest player ever to reach €10 million in career earnings on the European Tour. In 2012, he became the youngest player to reach $10 million in career earnings on the PGA Tour. Any more questions?
5. Spieth is humble.
Spieth may just be 21, but you wouldn’t know it by talking to him or listening to him speak. Spieth is the oldest of three siblings. His younger sister, Ellie, has special needs, and is the inspiration behind the Jordan Spieth Charitable Trust. Launched in 2013, the Jordan Spieth Charitable Trust is Spieth’s platform to lend time, awareness and financial assistance to three areas of philanthropic concern: Special needs youth, junior golf and military families.
6. They’re both good looking.
If you don’t think this matters, then you’re not paying attention. For both Spieth and Rory to be marketable athletes, it helps that they are both good looking young men. Go look at golf history the last 50 years. Palmer, Nicklaus, Player, Watson, Tiger and Phil. Do you really think it didn’t help?
7. Both have a strong sense of humor.
Golf is stuffy enough as it is, so it’s good for the game to have two young stars who don’t take themselves too seriously and are able to have fun. If golf is to bring in young millennials and grow the game, young people need to be able to identify with the stars they watch on tour.
8. Ratings, Ratings, Ratings.
One of the easiest metrics to judge whether golf is in good hands is television ratings. With Tiger in the hunt this go-round, and playing Sunday with McIlroy as Jordan Spieth was toppling record after record, CBS’ ratings and share of 6.5 and 16 were the highest since 2011’s 6.8/16.
Third-round coverage grabbed an average household metered market rating/share of 6.5/16, which in addition to being a huge leap from 2014, was also the highest third-round rating for the Masters. ESPN’s first and second round coverage also did well. The two days combined averaged 2.2 U.S. household rating and 3.1 million viewers, compared to 1.6 rating and 2.2 million viewers in 2014.
Bottom line: the more Rory and Spieth win, the more people will want to watch them play.
9. They’re from different countries.
One of golf’s biggest draws is the Ryder Cup. McIlroy has won three straight Ryder Cups with Europe (2010, 2012, 2014). Spieth just played in his first Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, and did well, netting 2.5 points for the United States. The fact that golf will have these two young stars squaring off at the Ryder Cup every two years is huge for the game and its global reach.
10. The next Tiger vs. Phil?
If golf is fortunate, Rory and Spieth will grow to have a competitive rivalry that matches Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. If it does, then the future is not just in good hands, but in great hands. Every generation has great rivalries. Ben Hogan had Sam Snead and Byron Nelson. Jack had Arnie and Gary. Golf has speculated for years what the next great rivalry would be once Tiger and Phil are no longer at the top. McIlroy needs a rival, and if Spieth emerges as that guy then golf will be very lucky.
11. They’re both liked by their peers.
Remember that survey that came out about a week ago that named Bubba Watson the least liked player on the PGA Tour? You know who wasn’t even on the list? Spieth and McIlroy. Both are well liked and respected by everyone they play with.
12. The fans love them.
Both Rory and Spieth have incredible charisma that makes them endearing to their fans. It’s the same kind of intangible that has made Mickelson such a popular figure on tour for the last twenty years. When the fans don’t like you, they aren’t going to root for you, and if they really don’t like you they may not watch at all. Tiger remains the biggest draw in the sport, but there’s no question his overall ‘likeability’ took a hit after his whole divorce saga. The fact that both Rory and Spieth are so popular among their fans is a huge plus for golf’s future.