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Matt York

A clean slate and a fresh start for Jordan Spieth

Profile image for By Doug Ferguson
By Doug Ferguson

KAPALUA, Hawaii — Three victories around the world. A chance to win another major. A Ryder Cup victory. Jordan Spieth had every reason to celebrate his year.

Part of him, however, couldn’t wait for it to end.

“I was happy when the ball touched down and 2017 started,” Spieth said Wednesday.

He wasn’t the least bit bothered by what he achieved last year, especially a pair of PGA Tour victories that ran his total to eight before he turned 23. He just knew he faced endless comparisons with the year before, and even matching that was going to be close to impossible.

Spieth was coming off the best season in golf over the last 40 years by anyone not named Tiger Woods. His five victories included the Masters and U.S. Open and as close as anyone has come to the modern Grand Slam. He capped it off with a FedEx Cup title and all the big awards.

And it didn’t help when he started the next year with an eight-shot victory in Kapalua.

“Off of this week last year, it didn’t necessarily help my own and anyone else’s expectations, given the performance that we had,” Spieth said. “But I also knew that wasn’t realistic to continue to do. It’s also a 30-something event … which makes your chances of winning significantly higher, even though it is a world-class field.

“But I learned a lot on both end of things, highs and lows, which I didn’t really have many lows in 2015,” he said. “I think I can use that to my advantage.”

One bad swing on the 12th hole at Augusta National could have changed that. Spieth lost a five-shot lead on the back nine of the Masters and never caught up.

But consider his outlook a year ago.

Asked what he would consider a good season, Spieth at first joked, “Last year.” He mentioned giving himself a serious chance in a couple of majors and closing out individual events. He had a chance in one major. He closed out victories at Kapalua, Colonial and the Australian Open. The Masters was the only tournament he had a chance to close out and let get away.

Not a bad year. Just not like the previous year.

And now, 2015 is far enough in the past that it’s easier to look forward. Another reminder is the world ranking. Even with three victories and a runner-up in a major, Spieth went from No. 1 to No. 5.

“Just have to get it back,” he said.

It starts on a Plantation Course that is far different from a year ago, when Spieth became the second player in PGA Tour history to finish 72 holes in 30 under par or lower. It was dry with light wind. This year, nearly two months of rainy weather makes has made the fairways lush.

Woods to play Farmers

Woods is starting the new year at a familiar place — Torrey Pines, where he has won eight times as a pro.

The Farmers Insurance Open announced Wednesday that Woods has committed to playing Jan. 26-29. It will be his first official PGA Tour event since August 2015. Woods also committed to the Honda Classic.