We can’t help ourselves from comparing Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods, even though we all know the futility of making comparisons between players from different eras.
Maybe it’s because Tiger Woods, by his own design, was always compared to Tiger Woods. Perhaps it stems from the charts on young Tiger Woods’ bedroom walls bearing the ages and dates of Jack Nicklaus achievements—from his junior days through his 18th major as a professional golfer.
Whatever the reason, with Jordan Spieth as a newly minted 24-year-old (and with a third major championship under his belt) it’s a good time to compare arguably the best golfer since Tiger Woods to the Striped One.
Jordan Spieth has won three major championship in 18 major starts as a professional golfer. Tiger Woods had two major championships when he turned 24, however, he only had 16 major starts as a pro, and it’s worth noting Woods won five of his next six majors after turning 24.
Spieth has 11 wins in 113 starts. Impressive, but consider Tiger Woods, when he turned 24, already had 15 wins…and in just 68 starts.
If Spieth wins the PGA Championship at Hazeltine in August, however, he will be the youngest golfer ever to complete the career Grand Slam.
Pros Who Have Completed The Grand Slam:
For his part, Spieth wants no, well, part of comparisons with Tiger Woods or Jack Nicklaus.
“I’ve answered this question a few times a couple years ago, so I’ll be careful with my answer,” he said after his British Open win.
“It’s amazing. I feel blessed to be able to play the game I love, but I don’t think that comparisons are … I don’t compare myself. And I don’t think that they’re appropriate or necessary. So to be in that company, no doubt is absolutely incredible. And I certainly appreciate it. And we work really hard to have that, with that being the goal.”
“But I’m very careful as to what that means going forward because what those guys have done has transcended the sport. And in no way, shape or form do I think I’m anywhere near that, whatsoever. So it’s a good start, but there is a long way to go.”
From a statistical standpoint, Tiger Woods in 1999 topped Jordan Spieth’s work this year in terms of driving distance, driving accuracy, and green in regulation. Interestingly, however, Spieth is averaging 4.61 birdies per round to Woods’ 4.31 that year. Woods scoring average was also much better: 68.43 compared to Spieth’s 69.08.
The main takeaway here: Jordan Spieth is ahead of Tiger Woods in the major championship department, but not with respect to wins per number of tournaments (major and other) played. Woods, when he turned 24, was on the verge of winning six of his next 10 major championships.
In other words, Spieth’s take that “it’s a good start, but there is a long way to go” isn’t false modesty, it’s spot on.